The Great "Cheapest Legal Music Downloads" Hunt.



  • chrb
    chrb Posts: 21 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Mr MSEController2, can you please clarify:

    Is it okay to discuss sites based in USA? If so, why? The British music/movie industry considers the US based sites "illegal" for UK users. Why aren't you deleting posts discussing US based sites?
  • chrb
    chrb Posts: 21 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    We have never stressed eitherway whether these sites are legal or not. This is not an open forum and members have to respect the wishes of the site owner, which are that these sites are not discussed here. I have repeated this more than once in this thread. If people continue linking to these sites we will have to consider withdrawing their ability to do so.


    Please read the top of the page!
    WARNING: This is an open forum, posts aren't endorsed by, pls exercise caution when acting on any info.

    You need to either:
    • Have an open forum.
    • Have a closed forum. This implicitly implies you taking legal responsibility for posts (see isp newsserver ruling in uk court case). It also requires you to change your forum "disclaimer" at the top of the page.
  • chrb
    chrb Posts: 21 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I really don't want people to think I'm spamming the forum, so this will be my last post for today. Here's a link to BBC News, and another to the Register discussing the "Russian site". I can't believe that these corporations publish articles discussing this site, whilst the people using this forum are censored.
  • Mr_Skint_2
    Mr_Skint_2 Posts: 5,183 Forumite
    Unless im missing the point it says that the sites and sales are legal in russia
    but its still a grey area over here, so for the time being they are not
    pursuing legal ation. (YET?)
  • MSE_Martin
    MSE_Martin Posts: 8,272 Money Saving Expert
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    The Abcons have asked for a comment from me on this - as it is a grey area. So let me qualify (for this specific thread only - not to become a general rule of the site)

    I'm going to give you a half-a**ed answer. Truth is I don't want the site to suffer a threat of legal action from the draconian powers that be in the music world. By promoting illegal or even quasi legal p2p that becomes possible.

    Remember a legal challenge from such people - even if it is false and wrong - would cost a fortune to defend, even if I believed it was right, and i simply can't risk the whole of the MoneySaving concept (which is bigger than P2P) on such a fight.

    Thus I would say - let's keep the links to strictly and overtly legal sites. I don't mind discussion on what is legal and not, but please don't link to sites which are 'challengeably legal' Im sure people will be able to Google them for themselves.

    Forgive me - i dont usually appear wimpy on these issues - but i'm thinking of the bigger picture.

    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • chrb
    chrb Posts: 21 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    MSE_Martin wrote:
    I don't mind discussion on what is legal and not...

    Thanks. Reposting my censored article with link to site removed.

    I firmly believe it is better to be educated about this situation, than to be confused and ignorant about the law and your rights. I've spent 4 years doing a computer science PhD, and I owned and ran a company doing grey imports of game consoles and accessories from Hong Kong and Taiwan for several years, so I have some experience with the legal issues here. However, I am not a lawyer, so accept this for what it's worth.

    In a nutshell - buying music from any site that is legal in Russia, is legal in the UK, *if* you are an individual consumer who does not resell.

    The explanation is a bit more complex. What you are doing is "grey importing". This is the process of buying goods abroad and then importing them into the UK without the permission of the original manufacturer. The main motivation for bypassing official UK suppliers is to get cheaper prices, and to gain access to products that aren't available in the UK. This obviously undercuts the official UK retailers and their higher profit margins.

    Commercial grey importing was believed to be legal until Tesco famously lost their court case against Levi Strauss (bbc news article). It is important to understand exactly why Tesco lost, to understand how the law applies to individuals. Levi Strauss successfully argued that to commercially resell their jeans Tesco would have to infringe their EU wide trademarks. Now, they have a point. The tags on the jeans are trademarked, so trademark law clearly applies, and since these jeans have not been sold by the manufacturer into the EU market, Tesco has no license to display the trademark.

    So why does this not apply to you? Read the Trademarks Act 1994. Section 10 covers infringement. Note the "if he uses in the course of trade" requirement. The trademarks act only applies to people who are involved in commercial activities. As an private importer, you are free to do whatever you want.

    And this is the way it should be. Can you imagine going on holiday to the US, buying a few pairs of jeans or DVDs, and then being sued for trademark/copyright infringement on your return to the UK? That would be crazy. And guess what - the law doesn't change just because you buy over the internet!

    To answer a few other questions that have come up in these threads:

    1. You have the right to create backup copies of your software. This is protected by EU software directive 1991.

    2. Personal copying for your own use is protected by "fair dealing" provisions. Ripping a CD, or copying an mp3 from your PC to your ipod, clearly create a new copy of a protected work. The only thing that stops this being copyright infringement is your right to "fair dealing". From the Copyright, designs and patents act 1988 section 29 1c) "Fair dealing with a .. work for the purpose of private study does not infringe any copyright in the work".

    3. Downloading music from a peer-to-peer service is almost certainly illegal. How is it different from the Russian site? Firstly, if your p2p client connects to a host in the UK, then it is clear cut copyright infringement. If you download from a host outside the EU, then you are importing pirated goods. It's the same as going on holiday to China, buying a suitcase load of pirated DVDs, and bringing them back to Britain. The important distinction is whether production in the host country is legal or not.

    4. Will they change the law? I expect they will try, but is it really possible? How do you change the law so that the guy coming back from the USA with his pair of jeans isn't a criminal, and yet someone coming back with a DVD is? Is there even any public demand for banning region X DVDs etc.? There are more important things for the police in this country to deal with than trying to cope with lots of new laws that restrict an individuals right to free trade. I suspect the change in law will actually come from Russia, but considering the problems that country has, and its political history, I doubt intellectual property rights are a top priority.

    5. What do the music industry say? The music (and movie) industry say that importing DVDs/CDs from outside of the EU, or using a web site based outside of the EU, is illegal as the music hasn't been "licensed" for distribution into the EU. However, there appears to be no legal basis for this belief, other than the Tesco ruling. It is difficult to see how the Tesco ruling, in a British court, could be applied to a provider based in the US or Russia, outside of the EU. And we have already seen that it doesn't apply to individuals who aren't engaged in commercial activity.

    6. Will the music industry sue? Given the fact that the sites appear to be legal, suing a user would be a very risky course of action. Imagine the potential damage if the music industry lost - within days half of Britain would be downloading from non-EU sites. The music industry love court cases; we've all heard the stories of them suing children and grandmothers. If there were any chance of them suing, they'd already have done it.

    And finally, for the censors out there, consider this. If grey importing from Russia were illegal, then it would also be illegal to import any goods from the USA or any other non-EU country, so you'd have to remove a lot of the posts on this site with cheap deals from abroad.
  • FieryBlondeScot
    can anybody explain to me exactly how this all works? i have just over-confused myself reading back through the arguments etc. i am giving my son an ipod for his birthday on tuesday and need to make sure he only uses sites to download that are strictly legal!! he has mentioned kaza or something which costs £15 a year but is that £15 a year for all the music you can download? or do you have to pay seperatly for each track?

    is there any one month free download type sites or anything like that?

    any help appreciated as to how it all works!

  • Fran
    Fran Posts: 11,281 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Hi FBS,

    I would think the best advice on what to go for is the ones for instance on the first page of this thread. Don't go for Kazaa as it leaves nasties on your computer (though I'm not sure if that's still true for the paid version). Really the best way to decide is to click on the links and have a good read of the websites, paying attention to the terms & conditions for each one.
    Torgwen.......... :) ...........
  • koru
    koru Posts: 1,508 Forumite
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    chrb wrote:
    And finally, for the censors out there, consider this. If grey importing from Russia were illegal, then it would also be illegal to import any goods from the USA or any other non-EU country, so you'd have to remove a lot of the posts on this site with cheap deals from abroad.
    I think most of your post is very interesting, but I am not sure I go along with this particular point. If you buy cheap goods abroad, but they are genuine goods, then the manufacturer is still making money from them. It is just that the manufacturer is making less money than they would make if you paid the price they wish to charge for sales in the UK.

    But if I understand right, these Russian sites are completely disregarding copyright, and the 'manufacturer' (in this case, the record company) is earning nothing from these sales. To my eyes, this goes a big step further than merely selling at a cheaper price than the record companies wish to charge in the UK. These sites are doing something that is categorically illegal in the UK - they are stealing the music on a CD and reselling it multiple times, without rewarding the owner of the copyright.

    Not only would it be illegal to do this in the UK, but, much more importantly, in moral terms it is stealing. Now, maybe you are right in your argument that this is not, technically speaking, illegal, but morals are simpler. If you take something from the owner without paying them, that is stealing. For me, that makes all the difference in the world from grey importing, which is merely finding a way to exploit the fact that a manufacturer sells its goods cheaper in other parts of the world.

    It seems to me that buying downloads from these Russian sites is like buying counterfeit jeans or electronics or CDs or whatever, from some country where counterfeiting is not illegal. I don't mean to preach a sermon; we can all make our own choice on whether to do this, just like we all make a choice about whether to buy a cheap TV from a bloke down the pub who obviously stole it. I just want to point out that just because you can legally get away with something it doesn't mean you should do it.
  • charlie12
    charlie12 Posts: 1,668 Forumite
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    A different perspective...

    I personally purchase all my music online. Not from legal download sites, however, but from regular online stores. That's right, the good ol' CD. Through a combination of vouchers, offers, affiliate cashback and credit card cashback I pay an average of £6 for an album on CD.

    I appreciate the convenience of music downloading but I see very few advantages over buying the physical CD and ripping to MP3.

    - I can make multiple copies for my own use with no restrictions. I can make a straight copy for the car, and an MP3 copy for my home server which streams music to all the PCs in the house. My copy of iTunes on the main PC then has access to this library and syncs elegantly to my iPods. Every device plays music at the quality (bit rate) that only I (and not any music corporation) decide upon. CDs played in my home stereo benefit from the maximum CD quality - If I have a home stereo costing several hundred pounds I don't want to be playing low bit rate MP3 conversions on it.

    - If the CD is unusually rare or worth a significant amount I can make a straight CD copy of it and use that in my home stereo, and safely store the original away.

    - Price - Often, physical CDs are cheaper than downloading. Of course this is not always the case but CDs are rarely more expensive than the equivalent online version. I'd be happy to pay a pound or two more to get the CD version.

    - When you buy something, it's much more satisfying when you have something tangible to hold on to. If I spend my hard-earned on an album I want to be able to hold it in my hands. Nothing beats the enjoyment of opening a new album, popping it into the CD player, and reading the inlay card while listening to the CD for the first time.

    - Insurance? If you have a large collection of music, you'd want it to be covered in your insurance. I seriously doubt any policy would cover music downloads on a stolen PC.

    - Resell potential - Bored/fed up/embarrassed (of owning) a CD? No problem, just sell it. As you have something tangible, it can be sold on legally. Don't forget to delete/bin any copies you have made.

    - What if my hard drive crashes and I lose all my music? What if I delete my MP3s by accident? What if my hard drive is causing random corruptions that I don't notice until I get round to listening to the corrupted file? If I've spent £200 on music downloaded online I've just lost it all. I don't know if some sites allow you to re-download tracks if they are lost? With physical CDs - No Problem - I either (1) rip another fresh set of MP3s from the original CD, or (2) restore the MP3s from a backup I made on DVDR.

    - I very rarely lend out my CDs, but if I do, I lend out a copy of the CD. I don't allow the borrower to keep the copied CD, as I state that it is my only copy. This way my originals don't get scratched to buggery and I stay legal.

    - It's totally legal.


    - Some technical knowledge is required to rip MP3s. It's not difficult though.

    - Some CDs have copy protection that prevents both direct CD copying and ripping to MP3. This, to me is a stupid move by the music companies as people wanting an MP3 version of the CD they have legally bought can't do so. It only discourages newbie home piracy but it has no effect on anything else. With a bit of research, any CD can be copied. If I want to rip a copy protected CD that I have bought legally, I either do the research and copy it myself, or I download a perfect quality rip from an illegal source. It's a sad state of affairs that I have to obtain MP3s from an illegal source to play music that I have legally paid for on my iPod. There's no way in hell I'm going to pay to download a crippled low bit rate version just to listen to on my iPod, when I've already forked out for the CD.

    - Singles. CD versions tend to be very expensive compared to their online counterparts. One thing I like about online music downloading is the fact that you can hear a song on the TV, on the street, etc, and you can then hop on the PC and download it straight away. Instant gratification. Personally I wouldn't pay for single downloads though. I still want to hold the CD in my hands, to know that I have bought something tangible. If there was a subscription service for singles with a low flat rate cost per month and a flexible choice of bit rate quality, and no restrictions, then I may be interested.

    /me strokes my towering CD collection :p
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