Digital Downloads – Delightful or Depraved?

Squeezed July 5, 2005

Alchera Project, Project 34, Option 5. A lot is changing in the music industry. We can now buy our music digitally, store it on a small device and carry it with us wherever we go…Write about this change, about how it’s effected you, how you’ve responded, what you support and don’t support, et cetera.

Laurie couldn’t have come up with this topic at a more opportune time, now that the Supreme Court’s decision against Grokster has become news.

Personally, I think the digital music revolution has brought great benefits. However, I can’t say that I endorse the way that it’s being used. I’m probably swimming against the tide on this, but I cannot condone the culture of copyright infringement that has resulted from it. Plus, I don’t utilize the new technology to the extent that others have, owing in large part to the legal questions that still surround it.

Now don’t get me wrong. Seeing digital music gain popularity, in general, is a good thing. I have an old 128MB Rio MP3 player, and when I get a USB 2.0 card in my computer and save up enough money I might consider getting an iPod. I have ripped music off my CDs (paid for with hard-earned cash) to use on my MP3 player. But I haven’t used MP3 very extensively, except for carrying music with me when I can’t easily carry a CD player. And company policy prevents me from putting MP3s on my computer at work.

And, yes, I’ll admit it right off the bat. I did have Napster Classic on my computer and experiment with it, though I didn’t make much use of it (waiting for an MP3 to download over 56K is as interesting as watching paint dry). I downloaded only a couple of songs. Yes, for free, and not quite legally. One, however, was from a CD soundtrack that not only is out of print, but was a limited edition to begin with. Those CDs are selling on the secondary market for $75-$100 as collector’s items. Makes the $20 that a typical CD costs in the store pale in comparison. So for one song off an album that I can’t easily rip off a CD, taking the risk was worth it. Shhh.

But you would probably agree that there’s a difference between getting a single hard-to-find song, and getting one’s whole music library from Grokster. I can’t see myself doing that. I would prefer buying the CD and getting the songs free and clear for my personal use when I can. Yes, even a $20 CD. It forces me to be selective about my music buying.

However, times have changed since Napster Classic. These days, I cannot morally and ethically justify downloading a song in violation of copyright when there are so many other legal alternatives available. The new Napster and iTunes make it easy to get music, and I think $1.00 per song is fair, all things considered.

And I don’t buy the argument that just because famous musicians are thought to be wealthy that it’s somehow fair to deprive them of the fair market value of their music, just as I don’t believe that it somehow becomes fair to pirate Windows because Bill Gates wouldn’t miss the money. In general, I don’t hold myself to a double standard, whether they’re major label, indie, garage, etc.; you want a song, you pay for it or go without. Simple concept.

Now that digital music can be bought at a fair price, I think I would use more digital music more often. Can someone lend me $250 so I can get an iPod?

2 Responses to “Digital Downloads – Delightful or Depraved?”

  1. Ryan Says:

    I love how the Google AdSense ad for this entry is for a music site. I don’t have $250 to spare, but I can tell you, I love my iPod. Now with built-in podcasting support!

    I really want to upgrade to the new color version, too, but my current 20GB is almost brand new! Say… wanna buy a used iPod? Heh.

  2. Lynn Vasquez Says:

    I’m glad to see this site up and running again!

    Lynn

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