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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The latest on illegal music downloads



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The Supreme Court has ruled on the consequences for illegal music downloads …and what your kids do that you don’t know about, you will be held responsible for.

We had the thing a couple of years ago when individuals were being sued by record labels for stealing music with illegal downloads on the computer. One college student was ordered to pay $700,000, while another woman ordered to pay $250,000 because her son was illegally downloading.

The Supreme Court has now said those are valid rulings and appropriate penalties. So the music industry has basically made examples out of these people.

Today, stealing music is not the problem it once was. That’s because people have found ways to listen legitimately for free or for very little money.

Among the offerings, you have Pandora.com, which is so popular its now capping your listening at a certain level because they can’t handle the demand.

Then you have other services like Spotify.com that are growing rapidly. That one is an app that’s a freemium service and has pay options for $5 a month or $10 a month. And then we’ve seen Amazon experimenting with selling entire albums for $2 from time to time.

So, to reiterate, first things first: It’s not OK to steal music. Second, there are so many ways to listen for free or really cheap.

A lot of bands make music free for download on their websites to create more loyalty and recognition. Music is a loss leader to get people out to live shows and get them buying merchandise.

Meanwhile, on a completely different track, the music industry has a new system in place to deal with piracy going forward. It’s called the Copyright Alert System.

Under the Copyright Alert System, if you download illegally, you will receive continuous warnings. It is a six-strike system. If you ignore all six warnings, your Internet connection will be throttled to a very low speed so you can just do basic web and email, but no downloading.