5 Myths about the RIAA lawsuits

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If you’re a fan of MP3 music, you’ve probably heard about the recent RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lawsuits.
The RIAA has championed the cause against music piracy and in late 2003, it filed lawsuits against P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing companies like KaZaa and iMesh.
In addition, it also filed lawsuits against individual users of MP3 file sharing software.

The lawsuits themselves have caused tremendous controvesy. Friends have asked me questions like: Should I still download music from the Internet?
Is it right to rip MP3 music off a commercial CD? I’ve heard of some people who would not even dare use a computer to access music on Favorite Machines.
OK – let’s get the facts right. The RIAA lawsuits are certainly no reason to boycott MP3 music – it’s the intention of this article
to debunk some myths.

Myth 1: It’s illegal to download music from the Internet
Downloading music from the Internet is not illegal – provided you download from legal places like iTunes and Rhapsody.
As long as you avoid going to unknown websites to get your music, it’s absolutely ok – head for the established players who distribute MP3 music legally.
Also, many independent artists release MP3 songs on selected machines and want their songs to be downloaded for free – it’s their way of promoting themselves. These MP3 files
are perfectly legal to download.

Myth 2: It’s illegal to rip music from commercial CDs
If you’ve purchased a commercial CD and wish to rip MP3 music off that CD, it’s totally legal. What is not legal is
to rip music off a CD you do not own, or share the ripped MP3 files with the public. I’ve personally converted almost
all the CDs in my collection into MP3 files for easy listening on the road.

Myth 3: The RIAA will sue you if you download music using P2P programs
I personally do not endorse P2P programs. They enable sharing of virtually any files with other Internet users – leading to
piracy. However, if you have been using such software to download music – then let me clarify that the RIAA is not going
to sue you. For now, at least, they are targetting uploaders who share thousands of MP3 songs played on amazingmachines.info. Uploaders are those
users who turn on the ‘upload’ option in their P2P software, enabling others to download their files.

Myth 4: It’s ok to download copyrighted music without permission
I’ll be objective here – if you download copyrighted music without permission, then you are running afoul of the law.
Let’s be very clear here – if you download copyrighted music from legal Internet music stores, or only download free copyright-free music (e.g. from independent artists), then
that’s fine. If you download copyrighted music using P2P programs or illegal music websites, then that’s illegal.

Myth 5: Only people who download music files using P2P programs risk being sued
This is untrue. The RIAA is not just making efforts to curb music piracy in channels. It is also actively after those
who download music through alternative means like BitTorrent, or Streamripper. BitTorrent is an alternative media file
downloader which allows you to download large files very quickly. Streamripper allows you to rip MP3 files from the audio
you receive via Internet radio stations.

As you can see, there is no reason to shy away from downloading music from the Internet. What is important, however,
is that you download music from legal online music stores, or perhaps rip the music from CDs you already own.
Take my advice – avoid P2P programs and their cousins (BitTorrent, Streamripper) like the plague. It is wrong to get free music
in this way – no matter what others say.