Here are the selected submissions grouped in one post. Read through them and place your votes in the newsletter poll.
Limewire is a P2P (Peer to Peer) sharing application along the same lines as the old Napster, WinMX, and a plethora of others. Users log in, share their files and search for others with music or videos or what not to download.
The problem with Limewire (and the other P2P sharing apps) isn't that the application itself is "illegal" to use - it's the content being shared. And therein lies the crux of the problem. SOME content is perfectly legal to share. Either the song or video is public domain, or the license for the song allows people to share it with reckless abandon. New groups sometimes grant licenses like this in order to "spread the word" so they can gain a listening audience.
Then there's the rest of the content universe. Most music and videos out there are NOT freeware. Most music by popular artists are protected by copyrights and such and if you download them, you could seriously be violating the law. ALL feature films are likewise protected by copyrights and downloading them IS likewise a big no-no.
The problem is determining exactly what is legit and what isn't. None of the P2P apps have any indicators that will tell you if the song's OK to download or is a one way ticket into trouble. You have to do a bit of research to see if a given song or video is OK to download or not.
And if that weren't enough... It gets worse. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) have been fighting back on a number of fronts. You've probably heard of 7 year old kids being sued for downloading a couple of songs. The RIAA and MPAA have software that can trace songs back to their point of origin by way of the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the person allegedly sharing the content. Never mind that the software in question is by NO means foolproof - there have been cases where they've tracked a song to an IP address only to find that the computer located at the address in question has NO trace of either music or video files, nor the programs allegedly used to share the files, NOR any trace that they were ever on the person's hard drive.
The other main methodology behind the RIAA/MPAA's plans to combat piracy is to "pollute" the sharing system with bogus files. On the one hand, the files may contain the first 30 odd seconds of a given song or a few minutes of a given video, but the rest of the file is garbage or lots of 0's - dead silence. If you download it from one of their agents, they record your IP address and send you a nastygram demanding money. If you get it from someone else, they still win because the file is incomplete junk and you've wasted time and effort downloading it.
Needless to say, MOST people nailed in these operations by the RIAA/MPAA get sued for copyright infringment. Most of these people usually cave in and pay their ransom (read: settle out of court) instead of fighting back. The reason behind this is obvious. It's far cheaper to pay a few thousand dollars than to hire a lawyer, go to court, and ultimately potentially lose the case - and then have to pay THEIR lawyer's fees as well as your own on top of whatever punitive damages the court decides you need to pay the RIAA/MPAA member in question.
As far as saftey's concerned... It's not worth the effort either. Software obtained from services like this can be corrupted, or otherwise infected with who knows what viruses and such. It can cause more problems than it solves.
So the bottom line - while it may be an appealing means to get your music, video or software fix, you may find yourself in heap big trouble. The "glory days" of downloading stuff willy-nilly on P2P networks are over. Unless you're filthy rich or you're a world class hacker who can cover your tracks on the web with the skills of a cyber-ninja and are an expert in solving softare problems, it just isn't worth the hassle.
It's far cheaper to buy a CD, rip the tracks you want and keep it in your archives OR buy the track/video from a legitimate source than to get busted by the RIAA/MPAA stormtroopers for sharing a few songs or go to court and really get the shaft.. Thus far, the RIAA/MPAA have an almost bulletproof record in winning the cases where the case went to court.
Submitted by: Wolfie2k5
(Authors disclaimer - I personally have nothing against breaking laws, hurting feelings, or a lack of ethics. This post will not portray my personal feelings on this matter, simply the facts as they stand now.)
First, LimeWire, Torrents, or any other form of music/software/video downloading programs are not illegal. The programs themselves are like any other tool. The tool is not illegal, what you do with it can be.
That being said, if you are downloading songs from any of these, that is not illegal either - maybe immoral, but not illegal. The only thing covered under copyright regulations is the distribution of copyrighted materials (see any RAA court case). This means that if you are uploading anything you are breaking the law.
Now, there is a couple of simple reasons Limewire is unsafe. First, it opens your system. Many people would disagree, however from the moment you begin using it you have opened yourself to maliscious software. Limewire makes a couple of directories (one of which it never informs you of) and begins to cycle downloads into your computer. Many (Most) of these are viruses. Your antivirus - if it's any kind of decent at all - will begin to go nuts, everyday. Also, most of these programs/songs/etc will come from one distributor so there is a greater chance of tampering.
The second reason LimeWire is unsafe is that you don't have a choice to restrict what is distributed through your system, or how much. You can have anything from a cookbook to porn on your computer and never know it. However, you can still get in trouble with it. If you are caught with - let's say some tastelessly immoral things - on your computer, you could get caught in something very deep. You will be distributing this because the Limewire program does it automatically.
In all, just stay away form Limewire, gnutella, or any of its counterparts. Yes, they are free and fast, but can be deadly. If you must download things use a Torrent Program such as bitTorrent or UTorrent or any of those. While they may take more time to download and can be more confusing at times, they are inherently
Submitted by: Archus
It is important to realize that file sharing software like LimeWire is not illegal per se. What is illegal is the downloading of copyrighted material, be it music files, movies, programs, images, etc. Doing so is considered piracy and can get you in an awful lot of trouble.
This whole mess essentially started in the late 90's, when a little application by the name of Napster (http://www.napster.com/choose/index.html) captured the imagination of nearly everyone within reach of a computer. Suddenly, you could get online and find pretty much any song you could think of - even long-forgotten or obscure tracks you could find neither on the radio nor at music stores. Many artists embraced the new technology. Others, most notably the heavy metal outfit Metallica, voiced their opposition on grounds that sharing of music files undermined album sales and thus profits.
Metallica's complaints proved to be as loud as their music, and the record companies decided to get involved.
The original Napster probably did more to promote new computer sales and help usher the age of high-speed Internet connections than most folks might realize. Downloading songs via dial-up connections took forever - and that was only one of a number of frustrations. But those same songs could be downloaded in a few minutes with a high-speed connection.
Faster downloads meant your chances of successfully downloading a song from anywhere in the world improved dramatically, since any given download would be completed in significantly less time. The "community" features of Napster meant some guy in southern Italy would pop up and ask you whether you had a copy of Black Rose's "Never Should've Started," and your jaw would just about hit the floor upon the realization that you were not the only soul in the universe who knew that obscure track, let alone want it. Folks kept downloading music files, and as their relatively small hard drives filled, they upgraded their hardware. Now everybody had a reason to get new computers, better speakers, etc. More peer-to-peer file sharing services appeared on the scene. A lot of folks were making a lot of money, really fast.
But the record companies were not (supposedly) among them, and they wanted a slice of the pie. When Gateway Computers (http://www.gateway.com/) ran a TV ad which blatantly exploited Napster's popularity, the proverbial "thing" hit the fan.
Gateway was pressured into withdrawing the ad, and the record companies went after Napster and, later, individual users. This resulted in many horror stories, like grandmothers getting arrested for songs their grandchildren downloaded to their PCs.
Understand, the record companies and artists have a right to look after their business interests. But the manner in which they went about expressing their concerns really rubbed people the wrong way. (It could be argued that Metallica itself never quite recovered from the backlash. Talk about poetic justice...)
Ironically, there was precious little evidence that all of that downloading had a significant effect on music sales. In fact, most published analyses suggested the main reason people were buying less CDs was because they were spending their money on a relatively new and exciting technology that offered far more bang for the buck - DVDs.
But that didn't stop the record companies. And rather than adopting the new technology developed by Napster, they decided to attack it. Napster was sued and a settlement was reached. It eventually resurfaced as the legitimate digital music store that exists today. (A very nice store, but a shadow of its old self.) With Napster out of the way, the record companies went after other file sharing giants, like KaZaA. LimeWire didn't become a target until more recently, probably because other applications were more popular.
If any good came out of this ugly mess, it was the acknowledgment of the need for legal alternatives for the digital distribution of copyrighted material. In this regard, Apple's iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/) and eMusic (http://www.emusic.com/) have been godsends.
Back to LimeWire. It is legal software, and you can download a copy of this application by visiting
Use Limewire judiciously - and at your own risk. Before you install the application, you will be asked whether you intend to use it to download copyrighted material, and you are given the chance to learn and understand the implications of doing so.
If you decide to give LimeWire a try, I suggest you stick to the basic version. The so-called Pro version might offer wider searches (and potentially more results), e-mail technical support, and the eternal promise of a groundbreaking new version to be released in the next six months, none of which justifies the cost of just under $19 every six-months. (You probably stand a better chance of finding the Loch Ness Monster hiding under your bed than ever seeing that elusive ultimate version of LimeWire Pro...)
Incidentally, the search engine is notoriously inaccurate regardless of the version of LimeWire you use.
As for the downloads themselves, realize that while not everything is copyrighted, what you see is not always what you get. Many files are of very poor quality, corrupted, misnamed and/or incomplete. That search result listed as "The Fratellis - Flathead" might be nothing more than Barney the Purple Dinosaur singing "I Love You" over and over. Some types may contain spyware and even trojans and viruses.
Realize that file sharing applications like LimeWire tend to share your computer's "My Documents" or "My Music" folder by default. As a result, anyone on the file sharing network at the same time your computer is connected may have the option to browse your shared folders and download whatever their little hearts desire - anything from a Kanye West track to a copy of your income tax form, complete with your social security number. Thus, it is important that after you install LimeWire, you go to Tools/Options/Sharing and specify as your shared folder one that only has files you wouldn't mind sharing, if any.
(LimeWire is a two-way street. You take and you are expected to give - at least some. If you give a lot of copyrighted materials, you run the risk of getting invited to appear in court...)
If what really interests you is downloading music - especially more recent and/or popular offerings - your best bet is to stick to one of the popular digital music stores, like iTunes and Napster. These are hardly the only two stores - just the most popular. You can also purchase and download music from stores as varied as
Sony's Connect Music Store (http://musicstore.connect.com/)
Best Buy (http://www.bestbuy.com/olspage.jsp?id=pcmcat102400050000&type=category)
Yahoo! Music (http://music.yahoo.com/)
One thing all these stores have in common is that they sell protected music files - files that have certain playback and recording limitations (known as digital media rights) to discourage illegal sharing. Thus, if you already have an mp3 player or are considering getting one, it makes sense to stick to a store or stores that support the media formats of the player that interests you.
Make sure you understand the digital media rights terms of a particular store before purchasing songs, especially in regards to burning songs to CDs. Some stores have terms so incredibly restrictive and/or vague that the savings they offer are simply not worth the hassle. (Exhibit A: Puretracks.com, www.puretracks.com/)
For more information on this subject, check out the following Music Compatibility Wizard:
You can also check for reviews of the different digital music stores on CNET.
By the way, there are other ways to get a lot of music legally, and possibly even for free:
* Many artists (new and established) reward their fans' curiosity and loyalty by offering bonus, alternate and/or rare tracks on their websites - or their MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/) pages. These free files might be smaller and thus of slightly lesser quality than their for-sale counterparts, though they tend to be of equal or better quality.
* Don't overlook eMusic. Record companies often sell part of their back catalogs to other smaller, independent labels, which in turn make their offerings available through eMusic. You might be surprised at what you find there. You can sign up for a free trial and get to keep anywhere from 25 to 100 tracks.
* Subscription services such as Rhapsody and Napster to Go allow you to download unlimited songs to your computer and/or portable device while your membership is active. While you do not actually own the songs (and thus cannot burn them to a disc), you can listen to thousands of songs each month for a low fee.
* Services like Yahoo! Music and Rhapsody allow you to stream music to your computer for free. With Rhapsody, you can listen to up to 25 songs a month for free. And I mean full songs, not just 30-second samples.
* You can also find a lot of free music on http://www.mp3.com/.
Two more advantages of dealing with digital music stores are consistency of quality and a very high probability that what you are downloading is not malware. Also, these stores might offer tracks unavailable elsewhere, even on CD.
Ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and cons of using a program like LimeWire to download music. Hopefully I have given you enough information to make an educated decision. Good luck!
P.S.: For anyone wondering, the Black Rose mentioned above is not the one available on iTunes. In fact, it is not available through any digital music store as far as I know. If you know the song in question, I salute you. If you don't and are curious, you have to do your homework...
Submitted by: Kid A
I'll make this short and sweet. Using Limewire is NOT illegal. Using Limewire to download Copyrighted Material (most songs and movies are two examples) IS illegal unless, and ONLY unless, you already own a copy of the album or video (on disc or tape) that you are downloading as you are allowed to have such copies for your own personal use.
Since "sharing" copyrighted materials is the main thing such P2P (Peer to Peer) networking programs are being used for, the media companies and related industry organizations that own or manage most of the copyrights are trying to get the "sharing" programs outlawed.
But there are dangers in using the P2P programs as they are becoming a common distribution route for various worms, viruses, trojans, spyware and other malware. If you choose to use such a program, there are some that have a reputation for trying to protect their users from phony downloads (files that appear to be popular songs/movies but are really junk files that are posted by the above companies/organizations to waste your time) and downloads with malware payloads. But even with those programs there is no guarantee of protection, so you should become very familiar with computer security to protect yourself from them.
I hope that helps.
.bh. aka Zepper
Submitted by: zepper
At it's heart LimeWire and other similar services are general file sharing services. You *can* find music and even movies there but you are smart enough to question this due to legal considerations and computer security, and rightly so.
First lets talk about the legal situation. As a general rule, if you can download songs or movies that are from commercial sources (in other words that are sold in stores) and you do not have to pay for them then it is probably illegal. We have all heard the stories of the RIAA and the MPAA tracking users of these "Peer2Peer" sharing services down and bringing legal action against them. And while they are not quite as "sue happy" as they once were, it could still happen to you. There are many legal sites to download music from for a small fee. You can choose from Apple's iTunes Store, Microsoft's Urge, and even Napster to name a few.
Now as to the other concern you mentioned, security. This is a very important matter with all P2P services and is certainly not confined just to LimeWire. There are many people on these services that will post files that contain various forms of malware (viruses, spyware, etc). People download files expecting to get something they want and instead infect themselves and further spread the electronic nastiness like wildfire. I always tell people to never accept a file from a source they do not trust, and on a P2P network with millions of people the chances are fairly slim you can say that you trust them all. The best advice I can give you if you still want to use these services is to have a good firewall and virus scanner combo and keep them up to date! And be sure to have yet another layer of protection by using spyware protection, I personally do scans at least once a month with both Spybot and AdAware.
I hope that this helps you. Just remember, if something is too good to be true it probably is....this applies to more in life than just free music.
Submitted by: LyteWing
First and foremost, file sharing software is not illegal in the strictest sense. A little legal history: In "the Betamax case" - Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. - the Supreme Court ruled that technology that allows copyright-infringing use is not illegal if the technology has significant non-infringing uses.* So rest assured you are not doing anything illegal by installing the software.
Unfortunately, however, file sharing (often called P2P) software is very often used for illegal purposes - the uploading and downloading of copyrighted material without permission. The only real "legally murky" area is downloading copyrighted materials that you already own. When you use software like Limewire, you use their built-in search to find files, so naturally you have to search for specific songs if you want to download music. Being only a casual listener myself, most of the music that I know and care to listen to is copyrighted. So I wouldn't know of any music that would be legal to download from file sharing software.
If that's enough to change your mind about obtaining P2P software, there are alternatives. You may want to look into sites like music.download.com, where (typically unsigned) artists share their work freely. Or you may want to look into downloading popular music legally through services like iTunes (pay per song) or Napster (pay per month). But if you feel you can use P2P software legally, read on.
Limewire is safe, although in the past it was supposedly distributed with adware or spyware. That is what was meant by "unsafe." Luckily though, Limewire was "GPL'd" which basically means the source code was made available to show that it is clear of viruses and other bad stuff. Limewire uses the Gnutella network, which is one of the largest file sharing networks out there. Another open source choice would be Ares, which uses its own network. It also uses BitTorrent, which is a completely different file sharing method that, without going into specifics, allows much faster downloading of large files. You might consult the P2P article on Wikipedia for more info on the different networks and software available. If you do decide to get any file-sharing software, I highly recommend it be open source.
I hope this helps,
* You may note that in a more recent case, MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., the Supreme Court ruled against Grokster, claiming they marketed the illegal aspect of the software, and ordered them to pay $50 million to the RIAA and MPAA. As a result, Limewire has also been targeted, and they've since countersued the RIAA. The battle is ongoing. Note that none of these cases will make the software itself illegal. It only confirms what we already knew - that the copyright infringement that goes on within these networks is illegal.
Submitted by: ucphenom82
There are two issues to Brandy's question Legality and Safety.
LEGALITY -- Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs, in and of themselves, are not illegal. However, their most frequent use, trading music without a license, is illegal. Heres how it works
When you create something, whether it be a photograph, a song, a book, or even a home movie Happy Valentines you are the author of that property. As the author, you are instantly granted control over who may make, sell, or trade copies of it, and for what purpose. This law is called the Copyright Law, and it makes the use of your creations, without your permission (which you grant through a license), illegal.
Limewire and other P2P programs make it easy for anyone connected to the internet to search and download files on the computers of other users. If you make available Happy Valentines, to which YOU OWN the Copyright, that is a perfectly LEGAL use of the service.
However, most people load, and do searches for, popular music to which they DO NOT own the Copyright! That is an ILLEGAL use of the service.
So who is hurt by this?
First - the labels, producers, retail record shops, are all on the critical list with most leaving the business. As an independent producer, I have lost over $700,000 to illegal downloading.
Second the Artists. P2P sharing removes revenue that allows Record labels and Producers to develop new talent, so if an artist is not an instant HIT, their careers are often over.
And Third you, the listener. The first recordings of Bob Dylan, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, 311, Fall Out Boy, Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill and many other artists were not instant hits. In todays record industry, they would probably not get a second chance.
Now the sencond issue, SAFETY -- Most of these products are reasonably safe, IF you are careful about partitioning your computer to limit the access of others. However, if you do not follow the instructions correctly, you will allow full access (and license) to other P2P users, including your bank records, personal letters, private photos and movies (remember "Happy Valentines?"), etc., all of which YOU own the Copyright. If you follow the instructions and are reasonably computer savvy, (or if you dont mind giving up privacy), you should be fine.
Submitted by: David Eaton Productions
Limewire, in addition to most other sites and applications that allow you to download music are essentially networks of people who have files that they are uploading to users who request them, hence the term "file-sharing" or "peer-to-peer networking." The legality of file sharing all depends on the content being distributed. If you are receiving a file from someone who does not have the rights to distribute that file (for example, a song that your "peer" ripped from a CD) then the act is illegal. If the file is distributed by someone who DOES have the rights to distribute it (such as a young artist trying to distribute demo songs that the artist created), then it is legal.
Be aware also that many file-sharing programs will automatically distribute the files you've downloaded to other users, in which case you may be caught and tried as a distributor of copy-righted material - something that you obviously want to avoid.
The issue of safety has to do with your trust in the person uploading the file. The person may call the file whatever he or she wants, and the danger is that someone with malicious intent may upload a fake file that really contains harmful software such as a virus or spy/ad-ware.
You may be wondering "if it's so dangerous/illegal, then why does it still exist?" The answer is because the file-sharing networks can all claim to be unaware of what material is being distributed, and no way to control what files are uploaded, after all, it's the users who distribute the copyrighted material, not the company.
If you are looking to download a song from the internet, I would recommend staying away from file-sharing programs such as limewire. A safer, and much more legal alternative is to download MP3s from legal sources such as Walmart.com or iTunes. Both companies allow you to purchase individual songs and both companies DO have agreements with the record companies to allow them to legally distribute the songs.
Submitted by: dkokelley