Can You Get A Legal Music Download?

by : Tembi Renca

Downloadable, top quality music is a really appealing concept to many people, but many of us want to stay the right side of the law. There are some compelling reasons to download music: it is a great way to check out a track or two from an unknown artist before splashing out on the CD; it offers the downloader unrivaled ease - a few moments after deciding on a track, it is yours. And streaming songs are sometimes available for instant listening.

So what is the deal with the law? Many people will remember Napster being taken to court for encouraging file-sharing for free among peers. This court case judged that people sharing files in this way are breaking the law - the fact that money isn't changing hands and no- one is profiting from it does not matter. Of course file sharing still goes on over peer to peer (P2P) networks (though not via Napster). Interestingly, recent research has shown that P2P is increasingly being used for legitimate file sharing - photos, files and so on - and not just for swapping copyrighted material.

If you want to stay the right side of the law, you should not download copyrighted material from the Internet. But the fact that this practice continues shows how many people think downloading their tunes is the best way to go. So if you want the convenience and ease without transgressing, how do you do it?

There are a variety of ways you can do it. With a decent connection such as broadband you will be able to get access to lots of great music from Internet Radio or from other web sites that play newly released albums - it often happens that the artist and record company has approved the streaming of their recently released albums. Streaming offers you the chance to listen to the album when it is playing but without getting your own copy downloaded. Closer to going to the store and listening to it on the headphones, but in the comfort of your home. Some useful sites to visit are, (a Yahoo site), search for Internet Radio via Google, or go to . On these sites you can see and listen to music videos too.

So much for streaming, but lots of us want the files on our PC so we can copy it down to our MP3 devices. It is time to look at those sites where you pay to own the tracks you want. Macintosh's iTunes site, designed to get the best from the iPod, is at - it is the top site at the moment. You are charged ninety nine cents for each song you download, but the quality is excellent and the track is yours to keep.

Other sites are always fighting for this lucrative market, each offering similar but slightly different services. There are many that work on a monthly-fee basis rather than billing by track. And a new and slightly different concept is mercora ( Here you pay a small monthly fee and share tracks - you broadcast your tracks (you can make like a DJ if you want) whilst you record the tracks broadcast by others. Mercora pays a fee for broadcast rights which makes it within the law.

Most of these sites offer a free trial, so why not give a few a go, pick up some free tracks and decide which service you like best.