Music: Buy or Pirate?

Ever since the advent of Napster back in 1999, the music industry has done all that it could to prevent people from downloading music without some money ending up in their pockets.  Between shutting down Napster, suing anybody who may have even thought about downloading a song without paying for it, and making those who sell music downloads incorporate some form of evil DRM, the RIAA has made many enemies out of music lovers across the interwebs.

I love music.  I also love holding a CD in my hand.  Downloading music doesn’t give me something tangible that I can hold, something that I can see what I spent my money on.  Plus, I enjoy reading the liner notes that come with CDs.  Digital downloads are nice and convenient but I’m not a big fan of them.  However, I do recognize the fact that this is the way that music has shifted and that it won’t be long before the DVD follows the same path.

Ever since the Sony Rootkit fiasco of 2005, I have been wary to buy any music at all.  In fact, I think that the only new CD that I have purchased since then is Straight Outta Lynwood by Weird Al.  Like most people, I put my music collection on my computer so that I can easily transfer it to my MP3 player.  With the possibility of rootkits being installed, I don’t want to put new music on my system if it came from a CD.  The flip side is that if I buy music from an online provider, then I have to deal with DRM.  I may as well be renting my music because if a server is taken down, that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Needless to say, my music library has been somewhat stagnant over the past few years.  I hate it but I have my principles and that’s how it’s going to be until the music industry stops treating their customers like criminals.

I found this comic on xkcd the other day.  It shows the dilemma that many music fans are going though as word of more and more DRM servers are being shut off.

We're all criminals!
We're all criminals!

This actually got me thinking about music downloads.  If you download music illegally, you’re a pirate and, if caught, the RIAA will feast upon your soul for Thanksgiving dinner.  If you download it from a service like Yahoo or Microsoft, or even WalMart, you run the risk of not having your music be available to you thanks to the DRM servers being shut off.  So what do you do?  I personally go without.  (Getting a notice of copyright violation from your ISP has some strong influence over downloading options.)  My guess is that until DRM-free music becomes readily avaiable for download, sites like The Pirate Bay will continue to be successful.

Jeremiah Zohner

Owner and CEO After developing a love of Star Wars and comic books as a child, Zohner was destined to be a geek. With interests touching on computers, video games, technology, books, TV and movies, and toys and collectibles, he is the epitome of a well-rounded geek. Zohner is one of the founding members of Stolendroids. After stepping away for a time to work on other endeavors, the time was right for him to make his triumphant return to the one project that he truly loves. When he’s not writing articles or podcasting, Zohner can be found spending time with his family, managing projects for a software company, or hanging out in the gym knowing that it won’t do a bit of good.

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  1. I saw that exact same comic. What I don’t understand (since nothing on my machine is DRM locked, with the notable exception of Windows), why are the servers going offline? Is an outage, or are they being retired?

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