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The Great "Cheapest Legal Music Downloads" Hunt.

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  • Clowance
    Clowance Posts: 1,850 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary I've been Money Tipped!
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    If like me you like the old stuff, Car boot sales are a rich hunting ground and legal too (as long as its an original). Today I got Eddy Grants greatest hits for 50p to rip to my newly purchased Rio player (courtesy of MSE, fantastic piece of kit). I am far from being a music or gadget freak, but have found it very simple to rip from CD using Windows media player.
    I did try downloading one track from Napster, 79p for something from the 80's I thought was a bit steep. CDs of older stuff often sell for cheaper than recent music unless its been rebadged or remastered. Also, it took me ages to get logged in correctly and I very nearly gave up. However, I shan't bother again.
  • MiserlyMartin
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    chrb wrote:
    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.

    So rather than sue and risk losing and making things even worse for themselves, the music industry would rather we all 'cower' under a percieved threat of illegality. I do have some sympathy for the copyright holders if they are not getting any revenue from sites such as those, but really the music industry have brought it on themselves by charging such high prices for so long, especially in the UK.

    Personally I would rather buy the CD than download officially. Because the sound quality is much better - CD PCM WAV as opposed to low bitrate mp3 (128K/bps - lo-fi sound) Also you have something that you 'own', a disc with a picture and a case and sleeve with artwork. Its also cheaper for a CD - at even 79p a TRACK, an album of ten tracks is £17.90 - far more than the original CD.

    So with these official downloads the record companies are profiteering even more than they do with CD's when you consider that they have no distribution or production costs with downloads, yet they charge more!

    What is needed here is a halfway house, a price of say 30p a track with CD equivalent sound quality (high bitrates). I think the fact that this topic has struggled to keep away from discussion of 'other' sites just about says it all about public opinion of the high price of music at the moment.
  • Tojo_Ralph
    Tojo_Ralph Posts: 8,373 Forumite
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    An interesting thread given that I have never considered downloading MP3's as an option and given the comments related to them being 128K/bps - lo-fi sound... I doubt I ever will!!!

    I appreciate that this is not a debate on the pros and cons of downloading versus CD purchase and ripping ones own, but I cannot see a single pro for downloading? :confused:
    The MSE Dictionary
    Loophole - A word used to entice people to read clearly written Terms and Conditions.
    Rip Off - Clearly written Terms and Conditions.
    Terms and Conditions - Otherwise known as a loophole or a rip off.
  • koru
    koru Posts: 1,526 Forumite
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    Its also cheaper for a CD - at even 79p a TRACK, an album of ten tracks is £17.90 - far more than the original CD.
    10x0.79=£7.90, which is less than you can buy a CD for on the high street.

    But I agree that it is pretty steep, considering that there's no actual CD, jewel case, liner sleeve, or physical distribution. To make matters worse, I think they only pay the artists about half the royalty. The record companies must be doing very well from iTunes, though they still winge.

    And I agree that their greed and the way they ripped off the UK on CD pricing for years has helped encourage piracy in its various forms.
    koru
  • charlie12
    charlie12 Posts: 1,668 Forumite
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    koru wrote:
    10x0.79=£7.90, which is less than you can buy a CD for on the high street.

    But I agree that it is pretty steep, considering that there's no actual CD, jewel case, liner sleeve, or physical distribution. To make matters worse, I think they only pay the artists about half the royalty. The record companies must be doing very well from iTunes, though they still winge.

    Yes, exactly. £7.90 (or thereabouts) for:

    - a crippled version that can only be copied a certain number of times
    - low bit rate
    - no backup if you lose the file due to common computer problems
    - no packaging
    - no physical CD
    - no chance to resell it

    ...is a total rip-off!. Music companies are loving it.

    Most CD albums I buy are slightly less than that, even if I was to pay a bit more I'd go for a CD any day. Much better value for money.
    And I agree that their greed and the way they ripped off the UK on CD pricing for years has helped encourage piracy in its various forms.

    Indeed. Before the likes of suppliers like Play, Amazon, CDWOW even existed I was happily buying albums from the U.S from various online suppliers. I never paid more than about £9 for a CD, when the equivalents were around £15-£20 on the high street, and not much less online. We have been ripped off in the UK for far too long.
  • MiserlyMartin
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    koru wrote:
    10x0.79=£7.90, which is less than you can buy a CD for on the high street.

    Oops sorry for the bad maths mistake, now don't I feel silly...

    I used a 10 track album as a modest example, a lot of albums have many more tracks such as this one: 3CD complilation with 64 tracks, 'Very Best of Now Dance', in HMV its £12.99 for the CD. http://www.hmv.co.uk/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=1022;-1;-1;-1&sku=417664 if you want to look.

    If you downloaded it it would be: 64 x 79p = £50.56

    Or 'Forever - Faithless' this is a 16 track album to buy in HMV on CD is £8.99.

    Download it at 79p a track you are talking £12.64. So really they are not much cheaper and in many cases dearer to download, yet you get an inferior product.

    Interesting point made above about losing the MP3 if your hard drive crashes. Are we allowed by law to make backups of our MP3s bought?

    To ToJO Ralph: 128KBPS MP3 is/was claimed by many to be equivalent to CD quality. Yet if you search the net you will find a lot of sites which discuss the reality. You will find that at 128KBPS you get a watery sound when listening on a decent set of speakers and a severe loss of high frequencies compared to the original CD. MP3 is a form of data compression and to achieve that low file size, parts of the audio frequency range have to be removed. The lower the bitrate the worse the sound is. To my ears at 192KBPS it sounds a lot better, but I can still tell the difference to a 320KBPS one, which is what I rip my MP3s at. Even I can't tell find it very hard to spot any difference between 320kBPS and the original CD. Yet 320k is still a sizeable reduction in file size - it takes up under a quarter of space of the original, with virtually no loss in fidelity. With broadband and hard drives now being so large theres no excuse really to use anything under 256Kbps these days.
  • charlie12
    charlie12 Posts: 1,668 Forumite
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    Interesting point made above about losing the MP3 if your hard drive crashes. Are we allowed by law to make backups of our MP3s bought?

    Not sure about the law in this regard, but my opinion is that you are legally allowed to make copies of downloaded MP3s bought. My reasoning is that (1) you have always been allowed to make backups of CDs for personal use as long as you own the original, and (2) most DRM mechanisms actually allow you to burn the MP3s onto CD a certain number of times, to listen in a home stereo or car. And a direct consequence of burning a CD is that it automatically becomes a backup.

    I'm not very familiar with Digital Rights Management, but the problem I see with this is that it is quite possible that once burnt on a CD, the files cannot be further copied, so if a PC hard drive dies, the CD cannot be used to copy back to the PC. So you're limited to listening using the CD only.

    I think the amount of restrictions is dependent on what implementation of DRM is being used, though I know that many services have a lenient set-up, for example iTunes Music Store - that uses Apple's Fairplay

    DRM is nasty and it doesn't make sense to have to pay for music that is massively restricted.

    Here's a good description of DRM.
  • MiserlyMartin
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    DRM is nasty indeed. I'm not sure either about copying an MP3 after you have burned it to a CD. But I do know that if you were to burn it to a CD as a cda/wav file, ie make an ordinary CD disc that you can play on a standard player, if you then copy it back to MP3 it will sound awful because it has compressed/ripped twice. (Its been compressed, converted to wav again (you can't get the quality back once its been removed), then compressed again.)

    I would never want to do that anyway! Thats another reason why there are so many awful sounding MP3's out there even high bitrate ones.
  • charlie12
    charlie12 Posts: 1,668 Forumite
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    But I do know that if you were to burn it to a CD as a cda/wav file, ie make an ordinary CD disc that you can play on a standard player, if you then copy it back to MP3 it will sound awful because it has compressed/ripped twice.

    Indeed, the resulting file quality will be rubbish. Having read up on Fairplay it appears that this is physically possible, but is illiegal (in the States, at least) as it circumvents the DMCA. Therefore, for backup purposes at least, if you wanted to backup your tracks, fine, but you're not allowed to restore them (to PC) as it would be illegal, but even if you do restore them, the resulting sound quality will be rubbish! What a joke.
    I would never want to do that anyway! Thats another reason why there are so many awful sounding MP3's out there even high bitrate ones.

    Yes, many "mainstream" pirate sources offer low quality MP3s. These have most likely been ripped badly, then converted multiple times to different formats of varying bit rates. Yet many people are oblivious as they they are content having not spent a penny!
  • chrb
    chrb Posts: 21 Forumite
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    koru wrote:
    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.

    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.

    I see your point, but it's not stealing, it's copyright infringement.

    Stealing involves someone losing something precious to them, something which they had to work hard to obtain. Copyright infringement only involves producing a copy of something; nobody has anything taken away from them. Lowering the value of an original item is not the same as stealing money which they already possess.

    Morality is a tricky thing. What if you bought from one of the Russian sites, and sent the money you saved to the Oxfam Earthquake appeal? Are human lives worth more than propping up a market model that relies on artificial scarcity? Those are the kinds of questions you end up asking yourself when thinking about the moral issues, but then, I guess we can convince ourselves of anything if we want to.
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