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Illegal downloading is stealing. Period.

November 28, 2006|by AL WUNDERLICH


You hear a good song on the radio and you say, "I think that song's worth having. I'll go ahead and download it."

It's a common thing, since downloading songs and albums has become a major way of getting - or stealing - music.

Ever since the technology was developed to easily upload music from CD to computer and download music from Internet to computer, there has been a drastic increase of the illegal downloading of music. There has also been a large increase in legal downloading sites such as iTunes.


Many issues with downloading music, though, have come into play with its popularity: support of the artist, breaking the law, sound quality and, perhaps, lost enjoyment of purchasing CDs.

It's really easy to get your favorite songs by illegally downloading them for free. But I find several issues with downloading illegal songs. Not only are you breaking copyright laws, but you're showing no support whatever for that artist. Quite frankly, you're stealing that artist's "product." Also, which is cooler: illegally stealing music online or going out and buying CDs at a store or online?

Here are three basic alternatives to downloading music:

1. Buy at a used-CD store.

2. Buy at a new-CD store.

3. Purchase from an online store.

To me, a CD store is a more enjoyable place to shop. I think you show you're a better music fan by buying CDs instead of pirating songs. Also the sound quality of a CD is much better than that of an MP3, since it is not so compressed. You can pretty easily notice a difference - it's not just some theory that you hear about. Although, when you "rip" a CD onto your computer so you can put a song on your MP3 player, that quality is lost. But I'm not against MP3 players, just downloading music.

Going to a used-CD store is great if you have a lot of time to browse. I enjoy just looking through CDs, since you can find something that you didn't have in mind or something you've heard of and want to try out. The prices can be dirt cheap (I found CDs for about $2 each). But if you know a CD you want, it's not the best place to go. You'll never know if they have what you want in stock. In that case, you can go to a place that sells new CDs or otherwise order CDs.

If I am looking for a particular CD, I like to order them for several reasons. First off, you don't have to worry about them being in stock, and you don't have to deal with people who picked up a CD and put it back in the wrong place. (I've had to wait 15 minutes for a guy to go find a recently released CD because it was not stocked correctly.)

Also, I can't stand the obscene album cover art that is often used by current artists. I buy a CD for the music, not for some artist's disturbing visual taste. Most of the time, CDs in used CD stores usually don't have that problem.

There are still ways to download music legally, like iTunes. I would suggest buying an album in CD form, however, because it shows that you are a better fan by supporting an artist. Artists can get a considerably larger amount of money from a CD than a download. "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote about such an arrangement in a question-and-answer session on his Web site (

He wrote:

"I actually do get significantly more money from CD sales, as opposed to downloads. ... It costs the label nothing for somebody to download an album (no manufacturing costs, shipping, or really any overhead of any kind) and yet the artist (me) winds up making less from it. Go figure."

That's my point in a nutshell. iTunes is not the big answer to music buying.

Buying CDs is more fun, CDs have better sound quality, and buying CDs gives more financial support to an artist than downloading music.

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