Music Downloading

A music download refers to the transferring of a music file from an internet-facing computer or website to a user's local computer. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyright material without permission or payment if required.
Popular online music stores that sell digital singles and
albums include the iTunes Store, Amazon MP3, Rhapsody, Napster, LimeWire, and eMusic. Sometimes downloads are encoded with digital rights management (DRM) that prevents and restricts one from making extra copies of the music. (1)

Napster in many ways started music downloading as well as paved ways for new copyright regulations within it all. Napster was an online music
file sharing service created by Shawn Fanning. The service operated between June 1999 and July 2001. Its technology allowed people to easily share their MP3 files with other participants, bypassing the established market for such songs and thus leading to the music industry's accusations of massive copyright violations. Although the original service was shut down by court order, it paved the way for decentralized peer-to-peer file-distribution programs, which have been much harder to control. (2)
Even legal music downloads have faced a number of challenges from artists, record labels and the
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Music downloading has negatively affected album sales as the numbers of CDs sold decreases and the number of digital music bought legally or illegally obtained increases. (3)

The RIAA involvement

"The RIAA is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. The RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conducts consumer, industry and technical research; and monitors and reviews state and federal laws, regulations and policies."(CrunchBase) (4)
The creation and growing popularity of music downloading brought with it some issues the RIAA would be working hard to monitor, battle, and prevent. As music downloading came onto the scene, the RIAA also did, launching numerous lawsuits against illegal music downloaders.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) launched its first lawsuits against individuals downloading illegal music files on September 8, 2003. The RIAA says that it files 700 to 750 suits a month against individuals downloading music files without paying for them in hopes of putting an end to Internet music piracy (5). When comparing penalties, music downloading has at times been a harsher than arson, dog fighting, and theft. The RIAA hopes their campaign will force people to respect the copyrights of music labels and eventually minimize the number of illegal downloads that happen everyday.

“Music Download.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2 Oct 2009.

(2) “Napsters High and Low Notes” Business Week. 14 Aug 2000. 10 Oct 2009

(3) “Universal in Dispute with Apple Over iTunes.” The New York Times: TimesPeople. 2 July 2007. 2 Oct 2009.

(4) “RIAA, Recording Industry Association of America.” Crunch Base. 22 May 2009. 2 Oct 2009.

(5) Jason Krause. "Breaking Up Downloading.” ABA Journal 92. (2006): 16, 18. Research Library. ProQuest. Georgia State University Library, Atlanta, GA. 12 Nov. 2008

List of more legal music downloading sites

Few sites/examples of harsh penalties for illegal music downloading and lawsuits