Is It Illegal to Download Free Music?

The Confusion Surrounding Music Copyright Law

Because there are so many different ways to get free music off the internet, there has become a lot of confusion and conflicting views as to what is legal and what isn’t.

“OK, so it’s illegal to burn a copy of a CD and distribute it. So are you telling me I can’t burn a mix CD and give it to a few of my friends?”

“It’s illegal to download free songs of peer-to-peer websites and servers, but can I download a song from my friend over Dropbox?”

These types of song copying and distribution leave many feeling that the laws are vague and outdated, so they just continue on downloading music illegally.

The increasingly popular technique of “YouTube to mp3″ where you grab the mp3 file from a video someone posted of a song has only added to the problem.

Is that illegal too?

Let’s take a look.

The FBI Warning

You know how when you’re watching a movie on a DVD (for those of us who still do that) and on the screen comes that familiar “FBI WARNING” that tells you the material is copyrighted and it’s illegal to make unauthorized copies of said material of any kind… etc.

Well, despite what some outdated articles might say, this copyright (or internet piracy) law also applies to music.

What does that mean?

Redistribution of any kind, without the artists consent, is illegal. And if you participate by knowingly downloading music that is being distributed without the artist’s consent, you are participating in illegal activity.

This article at IBM compared using these third-party sites just to rip music from YouTube, like “using cassette tapes to record songs of the radio”.

And peer-to-peer servers as well as other websites that don’t even technically host the files on their website, are still participating in this illegal activity, and in the future, copyright companies will continue to be cracking down on this activity.

Are There Other Options?

Yes. You are not without hope. There are so many options. Honestly, with all the options out there it’s amazing how many people are still working so hard to download music for free (OK, there’s not that many). I remember those days, myself.

And I cringe at the thought of having to once again edit the properties of each individual song so that it would be neat and orderly on my iPod.

Never again.

While you do have the option of subscribing to a music streaming service as many have, if you’d like to keep listening to your music very cheaply without an internet connection and you want to actually own the songs you’re listening to, I’d recommend a service like Mp3million, where you can download songs for nickels and dimes. These kinds of sites are legal as long as they are paying royalties on the song licenses. And with that said, hopefully you’ll be on your way to continue your music downloading lifestyle without (too much) interruption.

Zune Music Downloads – Ways to Do It

You can only enjoy your new Zune toy if you have music in it. So, if you’ve got yourself a new Microsoft Zune player your first concern should be how to download music into it. The Zune presents a partially different way to get the music into your player and much of the content is specific to the Zune.

Movies and Music – There are all sorts of content offerings for the player. There’s Zune movies, Zune music videos, Zune software, etc. The most popular, of course, is Zune music. There are several ways that you can download the music onto your player.


The Marketplace – Since Microsoft released the Zune player, they only saw it fit to also release services of their own where customers can download all their music from. The Microsoft Zune Marketplace is one of the best sources for original music downloads.

Zune Sites – There are also Pay-Per-Download sites that are similar to the Microsoft Zune Marketplace and it’s these services that allow customers to download content at a cost. Microsoft released what they call a Zune Pass and it is basically a monthly subscription to unlimited downloads from the site for about $15 a month. Other sites charge a dollar per download; so between the two services, Microsoft’s is a better solution. A 30 gigabyte Zune can hold up to 7,500 mp3s and if you pay per songs that would be spending way too much if using a pay-per-download service.

Wireless Solution

Zune and WIFI – Microsoft was wise to include WIFI technology into their Zune players. With this technology, it is now possible to share content with other Zune player users. It is an effortless process to get a song copy from one Zune to another and it is also a cool way to start a small community of friends who all use Zune as their preferred mp3 player. The only drawback with this is that a shared song can only be played about 3 times before it is deleted. This feature is to help protect the rights of musicians who make the music possible.

Rip & Play

Got a CD collection? You may want to translate all the songs into a format like mp3, suitable to store and play on a Zune player. The Zune music downloads can be ripped from your CDs and then to your PC. From the PC, the songs can then be transferred to your Zune.

Playing WMA and MP3 – The two formats that can be played are mp3 or WMA. The songs can be transferred to the player via USB cable and you can use the software that is packaged with the Zune to rip the files that you would like transferred to your player.

Membership Zune Websites – The last and best solution is to join a reputable free unlimited Zune downloads membership website. There are many websites on the internet that offer Zune content. However, you need to take care in choosing the right ones. Many of these sites can be accessed with a one time membership fee. After that, you are free to download as much as you want. These are some of the ways to get Zune music downloads into your new Zune player.

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