How to Download Music and Videos Legally

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA):

Both copying CDs to give to friends and downloading music illegally rob the people who created that music of compensation for their work. When record companies are deprived of critical revenue, they are forced to lay off employees, drop artists from their rosters, and sign fewer bands. That’s bad news for the music industry, but ultimately bad news for fans as well 1.

Parents can help their children understand copyright laws and responsibly download media if they keep current, keep communicating, and keep checking.

Keep Current

Whether or not downloading music and movies is illegal depends on the particular copyright attached to it. To be sure you and your child are downloading music and movies legally, it is important to go to a trustworthy site, for example: iTunes, 7digital, Napster, Amazon, Playlouder, HMV, and Virgin. Pandora Radio streams music for free and provides links for legal downloads.

For movies, stream shows from legal sites such as network television stations websites (CBS, Fox, NBC, and ABC), or rent/buy movies online through authorized vendors and dealers like Amazon, Unbox, Netflicks, and iTunes. Also, because sites like Yahoo! and MySpace have developed relationships with movie studios, they are sometimes able to show clips or even full-length versions of films.

Keep Communicating

Sometimes it’s difficult for children to understand the legal protection that copyrights offer products and to realize the serious consequences they may face for downloading illegal material. Teach your children that copyrights grant the exclusive right for those that create music or videos to dictate when copies are made. Help children understand that downloading music and movies illegally for free is stealing because it robs its owner of the profit. One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes 1.

Openly discuss with your children how they are obtaining music and movies. Involve them in the search for reputable sites that offer legal downloads. You may consider establishing, with your children, one or two official sites for downloading media.

Keep Checking

Frequently review the media files stored on the computer or your child’s mp3 player. If there seems to be an unusual influx of files, ask your child to explain his or her download strategy. Visit your child’s favorite downloading sites to make sure they are legitimate and legal.

1Recording Industry Association of America (n.d.). For Students doing Reports. Retrieved from