When the Internet was young, many people that used it did not totally understand that the file sharing of copyrighted material, be it pictures or music, was illegal and immoral. Websites allowed for free downloading of copyrighted music without even trying to hide their actions from legal action, because they may have not thought it was a big deal. However, once legal action was taken by the RIAA, these websites either went under or started going legal. File sharing programs tend to avoid legal action because there is a legal precedent that technology that allows for the production and duplication of copyrighted material is not inherently illegal. However, the illegal file sharing itself is still illegal and many stories have hit the news about people getting arrested and sued for sharing copyrighted material.
So how you can avoid breaking the law and doing something immoral? Do not download music that is copyrighted unless you are legally allowed to. If you have to pay a fee to legally download the music you can be sure you are not breaking the law. But what if you want to download legal music for free? Well, it actually is not that uncommon for free music to be available officially and legally, you just have to be able to tell the difference between free legal music and free illegal music.
The first sign is obvious; if they do not say the free download is legal, it probably is not. Look for websites that proclaim that their free downloads are free. How can this be? How do they make money? There are many ways. Sites and services that allow you to download legal music for free have some way of making money of their visitors. Sometimes they pay the RIAA for the music, provide it for free, and then make their money off of ad revenue for the ads on their site. Another way they can make money off of the downloads is to have the visitors fill out a questionnaire and then sell the results to other companies for collecting data on the public’s opinions and preferences. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean they are going to steal your identity. You may just have to fill out a form answer questions about music, television, movies, or other subjects and then companies pay for the results so they can produce products inline with the public’s preferences.
Many bands and companies also release music for free to generate a buzz for their album or product. Some television shows provide free downloads of music related to the show as a service to fans. Some bands release legal free downloads to help get their music to more people to help sell more copies of the full album. Free legal music is out there, you just need to know what to avoid.