The Wild, Wild West of ripped and ripped off media

May 31, 2006

convict_13.jpgI’m not sure whether you know it or not, but there are a hell of a lot of blogs devoted to ripped LPs and CDs. What do I mean? They have digitized LPs and made them into mp3s. Or they have turned the AIFF files on CDs into mp3s. The mp3s are of course much smaller files and suitable for kiting over the internet, or dumping en masse onto your friends’ iPods. Mind you, by reporting this, it does not mean I condone it. At all.

I have watched in horror over the past 10 years as students dump every song on their iPods onto friends’ computers or iPods. Any given student has mp3s, some of which were bought legally, most of which were downloaded illegally, and many were “gifts” from friends. None of the students seemed to have any guilt whatsoever exchanging their files. These were acts of generosity. Little did they know they were thieves.

With the reorganization of Napster and a few other similar enterprises, illegal downloading has dwindled somewhat, and purchasing music online is increasing in popularity. But now the blogosphere is becoming a haven for anyone to download old LPs, 78s, wax cylinders, and CDs. Many of these offerings are indeed out of print. Never the less the copyright is still in effect, so downloading them would be illegal. But if the company that made them is out of business, it seems unlikely that the copyright holders will come after you for downloading it. Unlikely, but possible. On the other hand, music that has been long out of print can regain interest by being made available as a free download on the internet.

Many of the blogs make CDs that are currently IN PRINT available as mp3 downloads. This, of course, is completely illegal. On the other hand, there are some blogs that make ancient recordings available as downloads, and specify that the music IS in public domain and may be legally downloaded.

So as you are traversing the unpoliced world of music downloads, try to figure out whether what you are doing is legal or not. My own advice is this: if you download something that is available for purchase, listen to it and if you like it, throw away the files and buy it legally.

Here are some blogs that will keep you amused for hours:

8 Days in April

Endless Mike

Free Albums Galore

Lellebelle

Rato Records

You ain’t no Picasso

Weirdomusic.com

You’ll find that each one of these blogs has a blogroll, most of which are similar kinds of blogs. My guess is that someday all these blogs will be shut down. But for now, it’s the wild wild west of ripped and ripped off media!

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