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Can I Share the Mp3s I Download from Amazon?


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Initial post: Aug 15, 2010 6:30:14 PM PDT
Victorino says:
Hello, I hope you are doing well.

I have downloaded hundreds and hundreds of songs through Amazon.com's Mp3 Service. I was wondering if it were legal to post the songs to my friends. I am not making any money or anything and would just like to give some friends the songs they're looking for.

There aren't any restrictions like the iTunes songs I purchased in the past, so I've been thinking it should be fine. Thanks.

Posted on Dec 14, 2010 4:35:46 AM PST
Of course it's not. When you pay money for your Amazon MP3 tracks, you're actually only buying the right to listen to it yourself as per the licence terms. (you will find all music works like this - you never actually buy the CD or record, you just buy the licence to listen to it!)

If you share your Amazon MP3s on the Internet or to other people, you are effectively guilty of sharing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent - in a nutshell, piracy. Also I believe Amazon MP3s may contain information which can uniquely identify you as the customer and purchaser of that particular file (not investigated further myself) so I would recommend against sharing *your* music with anybody else unless you implicitly trust them not to do anything naughty with it.

Equate it to burning copies of your CDs and handing them out to people, in an infinitely increasing number...

(This thread was pretty decent trollbait, good effort.)

Posted on Feb 23, 2012 7:00:42 PM PST
jstcharles says:
How interesting this subject is, there was a time we just recorded a song off the radio to a casette and listen to it when ever we wanted and copied and gave it to friends. I guess some things are not better after all.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2012 11:57:18 AM PST
Sharing cassette recordings is essentially no different from sharing MP3s... The only thing which hindered the prevalence of tape-based piracy was the effort required to make copies. With MP3s, it's so trivial you don't even think about it - select, copy and paste is all it takes to create an exact duplicate. And now with ubiquitous high-speed Internet, I think we as listeners of music (and hopefully, fans of quality music) owe it to the artists to not simply share music around to all and sundry.

Sure, maybe share it with your close friends if you think they'd enjoy the music - hopefully they'll eventually become a fan themselves; this particular "recommendation engine" has existed as long as music in any physical format. I have a quaint image in my head of well-to-do people sharing the (perhaps literally!) hot new wax cylinder recording of the popular artist of the day to introduce people to the songs, but those things were incredibly fragile and would break if you even held them too firmly. ;-)

On the flipside, becoming an unauthorised distributor en masse for every single digital music file you have on your computer is an entirely different matter - frankly as a music fan (and someone who spends hundreds of £ every year buying the stuff) I think it's a bit disrespectful, if nothing else it devalues the creative output of musicians and renders the artifact of a 'tune' to a near worthless status. I don't want that to happen.

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 8:27:41 AM PST
Number Six says:
It's more than that. By releasing audio on unencripted mp3s the music industry is taking the gamble that many of us will be honest and pay for the music that we listen to. if we don't, it'll be back to retailing only encrypted audio and drm.

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 1:22:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2012 1:25:11 PM PST
Tzanchan says:
Louis CK had the guts to allow 3 downloads of his gig for $5, and was amazed by the number of people who bought and had no drm, relied on the honesty of people like me. The issue is the flip side of "ripping off the artist" is that they price the music at monopolistic amounts given that the distribution channels are so much less expensive toady the real price of an "album" ought to be about $1; no vinyl, no stores, little advertising, etc. It works both ways. When people pay $9.99 for a 40 year old Beatle album or or even the new Van Halen, compare the cost of production and distribution to 1984 or whatever and there is no price competition it's not hard to figure out why people feel they can "share". Next is the RIAA going to sue me for inviting friends over to listen when they didn't pay?

Toi add insult to injury, the very people who encouraged the download of Napster and Limewire, etc... for P2P sharing for years are now suing people, no wonder the industry is "suffering". A pox on all their houses......

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 2:52:17 PM PST
Number Six says:
It is only ethical to steal things that are grossly overpriced. So I'm off to Best Buy to snag me some Monster Cables, Bose speakers, the Star Wars sextilogy and an Intel processor or two.

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 2:14:47 AM PST
J. MINARD says:
Of course it's illegal to share music over the internet. However, the record companies' greed invites this. They should have discounts for people who buy the same music that they've already purchased in older formats, such as lps and/or cassettes. Honest people feel ripped off, as well we should.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 3:37:36 AM PST
Number Six says:
Minard, no one buys the argument that stealing is taking something that doesn't belong to you if the owner is charging a reasonable price. Steal whatever you chose for whatever reason you chose. But don't think for a minute we buy your argument that another person's greed makes your theft of their property a moral act.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 5:40:14 AM PST
Tzanchan says:
Oh yeah, I forgot about that in my post. Album, cassette, cd mp3 all for the same darn music? Then, who aggressively pushed file sharing 2000-2005 ish? AOL, all the most popular sites owned and controlled by the most "active" members of the RIAA......now sung people who proceeded to use Morpheus, etc.....

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 5:44:24 AM PST
Tzanchan says:
So the behavior of the corporations who encouraged 500 million plus downloads of file sharing software and listed the most popular sites to find Madonna, Black Eyed Peas or whoever are "moral" oh yeah I forgot. Corporations are people, and money is speech, so real people with no money have no real speech, but corporations buy congress with their "speech" and we get SOPA..

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 6:18:54 AM PST
D. Marcotte says:
Hmmmm, why ask a question such as this when you know that you are just going to share whatever tunes you wish with whomever asks for it anyway, not a stranger but your friends on the internet. Do you think there are investigators out there that are tracking your every move with a single mp3? I recycle computers and there are all sorts of things on hard drives that people do not insure are removed before they trash them. Do you think that I send money to the artist if I find their songs on an old hard drive? Of course I don't! If you find a bunch of old cassettes or cds in a dumpster because someone discarded them do you then send money to the artist because you found them? Of course you don't! There are so many different avenues that distribute music throughout the world even including the ones I just mentioned. If I come across music as I do I am confident that the artist is still living in their giant mansion, driving their $100,000.00+ dollar car, banging their supermodel girlfriend and I have the minute pleasure of listening to a little of their music that I just happened to find.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 10:51:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2012 12:08:46 PM PST
J. MINARD says:
I didn't say it's moral to steal the music, nor do I do it myself. I said the greedy record companies certainly "invite" the rationalization to do so. It's comes down to deciding either to illegally share, even the playing field, and be a thief, or be honest and feel like a sucker. I choose the latter. Frankly, I'm too afraid of Big Brother (record companies' potential technological abilities to track downloads now or in the future). I don't want to have to look over my shoulder because I stole a 99 cent song. And, I have a clear conscience, though I feel like a sucker because I'm buying the same music 2 or 3 times.

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 4:41:12 PM PST
Renie says:
Well what about home networking. Also iTunes allows sharing (up to 5 computers). I have allowed my mother, sister and daughter to listen to music and watch videos I've purchased thru iTunes by simply giving their computers "authorization" to do so. I did not have to do this thru home networking but by actually giving them the files to use on their own computers. I do have home networking (even though I don't use it) but the fact is that there are some instances where you can legally share music.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 8:00:06 PM PST
As you'll see in the iTunes Terms & Conditions you agreed to, the licence you purchase (which is all it is, you never own the files) includes the ability for you to authorise up to five of your computers to play back content you have 'purchased' in the iTunes Store. Bear in mind that this licence may only technically be for *your* computers, so you may ironically be breaching the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions as you're effectively distributing to others outside the scope of the licence agreement you entered into with Apple when you hand over your money for a track on iTunes. The licence you purchase when you buy the music does not normally grant permission to distribute said files on to third parties unless they also hold a licence to play the files.

What most people can't get into their heads is that you NEVER OWN MUSIC. Ownership of songs remains with the copyright holders of the sound recording, the publishers and those responsible for composition of music & lyrics. When you "buy" a tune, be it on CD, MP3, vinyl, wax cylinder, 8-track, cassette, Minidisc etc., all you're doing is paying for a licence to reproduce that particular sound recording at home in accordance with the terms and conditions of the seller (the download site or shop).

The fact that CDs happened to be the most popular (and simplest) *distribution method* for 25 years meant that people have hundreds of CDs in their homes; they do not own these CDs, they merely own the licence to play them back. In reality these kinds of licenses are impossible to police if you decide to go and sell it or lend it to a neighbour. However, the fact that they physically exist as pieces of plastic limited the scope of piracy for a long time to only the most 'enthusiastic' of pirates who could afford to replicate CDs (although of course physical piracy's a tremendous problem and has been for a long time). It's the inherent non-existence of MP3s outside of the digital world - they are infinitely copyable without degradation of quality by anyone who has Copy & Paste on their computer. MP3s are ephemeral, it's one of the reasons I won't hand over my money for digital music as I feel it's worthless as an artifact.

The point I'm trying to make here is that regardless of format - MP3, CDs, vinyl, wax cylinder, tape cassette... Whilst I prefer formats where I have a physical artifact I can go back to in future (and look prettier ;) ALL YOU EVER BUY IS THE LICENCE FOR NONCOMMERCIAL HOME REPRODUCTION. You could in theory encounter a situation where were allowed to hold the original Mona Lisa painting in your hands although you didn't own it - in that situation, it's probably you were granted the right to hold it under strict conditions not to deface it, paint a copy or damage it. The analogy holds true for music as it has done since the dawn of time. If you're a radio station / shop with a PA system / venue owner / TV company / film company etc you then require additional licenses for the additional usage scenarios.

FWIW, copyright law was outmoded even before Napster showed up, the problem is it's so monolithic and entire industries hinge on the manner in which the law is implemented, to scrap it and start from scratch would probably mean the end of the recorded music industry as we know it... Which, whilst sounding tempting I'm sure to many people, would pretty much bring about the collapse of every service you're familiar with. It's going to be almost impossible to redesign a new copyright framework which can coexist with the rapid rate of change we see in the digital world; eventually we'll get a law which does all the good things SOPA / DEA set out to accomplish without all of the nasty other stuff, but this will take at least a decade to get right.

IMO Music should be all about the experience, the entire package -- not just the fact you now have a song downloaded in 30 seconds which you can listen to a handful of times before discarding it from your playlist. If you cratedig at your local record shop, spend an hour or so evaluating music you've never heard before and then hand over your cash and take it home, you feel like you have a real investment in the music, it gains a massive amount of value and importance. Clicking and downloading random tracks is so uninteresting it's become a throwaway experience, like visiting a fast food joint for lunch.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2012 5:54:02 PM PST
Renie says:
Good grief do you really expect me to read all of this post!! LOL!!! You seem to be very "technical". I take it that you work for Amazon or iTunes or are a music industry person.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2012 6:13:34 PM PST
J. MINARD says:
What arev SOPA/DEA? Also, what format is a wax cylinder? I saw you mentioned that in another post. I'm 59 and don't know what that is. Also, I don't get your meaning of MP3s being "ephemoral". I love downloading favorite old music from the past that has been resurrected digitally on Amazon/Itunes. It sounds great on my IPOD. Thanks, Christopher.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2012 2:49:09 AM PST
If you don't wish to participate in the discussion, don't bother reading. I am a bit technical, I work at a small indie label so everything which happens to the majors happens to us, but usually in a magnified fashion (so when the downturn hits, it hits hard). We're having to be scrappy just to stay alive and this is a story repeated around the world for true independent labels (most of the "indie" labels you see these days are actually just brands majority-owned by major labels).

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2012 2:55:30 AM PST
SOPA = Stop Online Piracy Act, it was a law due to be introduced but which was so poorly worded and so overarching in its potential powers that it could have potentially been used to censor the Internet. Read up about it, there was massive coverage and people even went out on the streets across America and Europe protesting it.

Wax cylinders were the precursor to circular phonograms (78s etc.); several competing manufacturers produced wax cylinders but they were incredibly brittle and had poor sound quality. It was a step up from piano roll though...!

All digital music, when you think about it, is ephemeral. A string of 0s and 1s, interpreted by a piece of software and converted into a sound wave. This is not fundamentally dissimilar from how a CD works, but when distinguishes CDs, vinyl, cassettes etc. from MP3s is that you can never purchase a physical MP3. Music turns me into a bit of a materialist; I love holding an album in my hand, turning it over, looking at the artwork, examining the disc. With records, I love that I can physically see the music laid out as a constant groove on the track, I love how crazy the concept of analogue reproduction is and I love that it works so marvellously even taking its flaws into consideration.

Put it like this: I cherish my music collection on CDs and vinyl, I spent a long time collating it, sorting it, hunting round record shops for little gems. In contrast, I can jump onto a web site, instantly search for a random album and click to download it in less than five minutes. I don't value my collection of digital music at all really, there's no physical artwork to look at, it's confined to an electronic device and the sound quality isn't as good as the physical article. if I lost my MP3s today through a hard drive crash I would just recreate them... From my CD collection!

Posted on Mar 7, 2012 3:14:54 AM PST
J. MINARD says:
Thanks son much for your generous insights, Christopher. Your passion comes across quite vividly. Your description of digital music coincides with what I heard Neil Young say recently: that what we download as a song provides about 10% of the sound produced by the musicians in the studio. While I've enjoyed music for over 5 decades, I'm obviously no audiophile because I honestly don't regret giving away my vinyl collection. I replaced it with cds. Like you, I do miss reading album covers, liner notes, etc. Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2012 2:30:57 PM PST
I think you're just ahead of me -- I can see a time when I'll become tired with having to cart around my music collection! But for the time being, hopefully the next 30 years at least, my vinyl is a labour of love and not just a labour.

Certainly in terms of pure sound quality, CD outstrips vinyl by a country mile due to the fewer technical problems, like-for-like reproduction 100 plays, 500 plays later... I love the entire sensation of enjoying an album and not just listening to the music. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2012 2:46:31 PM PST
J. MINARD says:
Yes, I don't miss the pops and scratches of vinyl, either. One of the first bands I loved was Deep Purple. Their albums' sound quality was consistently among the worst, unfortunately. Speaking of quality, do MP3s lack the fullness of cds?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 8, 2012 7:41:32 AM PST
Number Six says:
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Posted on Mar 19, 2012 8:19:12 PM PDT
D. Benefield says:
Warning; I will be speaking from a moral standpoint, not a legal one. The legal has ever been catching up to moral, and this case is no different whatsoever.

If something is stolen, then the person who had it stolen from them no longer has it. Poll the members of the RIAA and other such organizations; how much of their libraries are gone forever due to mp3 thieves? Unless they lie (which would not be out of character) they will have to admit that they have not been deprived of ownership of a single byte of data. The act of copying is not morally theft, as no one has been deprived of ownership at all. It's simply reproduction.

What we are buying is not the music. It's the service of encoding it well with the right tags and cover art, automatically adding it to our iTunes or other media catchall program, being able to pop it on any device we decide we need to pop it onto, and being able to download from a trustworthy source. If the members of the RIAA realize this, they may not die as terrible a death as they would otherwise, and very well may be able to have a voice in the new paradigm. If they continue to treat their customers as thieves, however, and especially if DRM makes a comeback, they will be extinct sooner and with much more pain to them and the artists they purport to represent.

As Mr. Woods has alluded to above, when the legal does catch up to the moral, the recording industry will be remade into something barely recognizable to our contemporary expectations. I, and other moralists with clear heads and hearts, look forward to that day.

Posted on Mar 20, 2012 6:31:43 PM PDT
Number Six says:
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Discussion in:  MP3 forum
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Initial post:  Aug 15, 2010
Latest post:  Nov 28, 2013

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