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By Brian Grimmett

Music, file sharing, and the influence of the law

Music sharing

Ever since Napster first came onto the internet, sharing music with friends has been easy (almost too easy.) Internet piracy suddenly became an issue, and before long, a number of different platforms for sharing music became available. Today, sharing music in all its forms has become a way of life.

Sharing is caring

There are many ways to share music online; the most popular ones are services like Soundcloud, torrents, and hosting files on a website. The way it works is by enabling someone to either download or stream a file directly onto their computer. Once something is downloaded, it will be on the computer permanently. Streaming a song is purely online and does not transfer to the computer. Most services focus on one type or the other, though several offer both types.

However, remember that some streaming services are technically illegal. Downloading a track not owned is considered piracy. Make sure adequate research is performed on the service you are looking into, to verify if it is legal or not. While it is difficult for law enforcement to prosecute this crime, there are a number of cases that have been successfully prosecuted.

Law and order

It is important to stay aware of your activities. As previously mentioned, young kids and other generally law-abiding citizens have been caught unawares when using file sharing services. The laws are still a bit murky in this area, and with the introduction of VPN services, it has become easier to go undetected. Although the temptation is to download anything one wants for free, nothing is foolproof and some VPN companies will turn over records when subpoenas are brought against them.

Choices, choices, choices

BitTorrent is one such method that functions in a gray area. Technically, if you download a torrent but own the disc or other media, then it is legal. Acquiring something one does not own is what is considered illegal. This enables many torrent sites to continue their business without getting shut down. Torrent is also popular because the parts of the file are downloaded from various users; this reduces the risk of viruses and makes it more difficult to track.

Some sites offer file hosting services, where a person can upload a file to the site and share the download with others. This can be riskier, since downloading a file from just one source has a higher rate of viruses and/or malware.

Lastly, there are services such as Soundcloud and Mixcloud. These companies offer users the chance to stream tracks they like, and others can stream it as well. DJs and record labels make vast use of these platforms to exhibit unreleased tracks, share tracks from fellow artists, and enable followers to download tracks.

Onward to destiny!

Music sharing is the future. Due to its easy-to-use nature and worldwide reach, there is no doubt it will continue to grow and grow. As with all things in life, knowledge is power. Whichever route you choose to take, knowing everything about the source is the key to making the most of it (and will aid in avoiding legal troubles and virus issues).

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