Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Quick Word About Torrents & DRM-free Music

I received a note from a reader that got me a bit hot under the collar for a moment. It was in regards to a comment I made in yesterday’s Internet radio article (see, Music Radio For Your Phone (or Blackberry)(or PC)) .. specifically, “no, I do not purchase tunes“.

The writer presumed that indicated that I am like everyone else in the free world (apparently) and used a “file sharing” program (commonly called “Torrents”) and they inquired as to which one I liked best and recommend… uTorrent? eDonkey? LimeWire?

My first thought was, clearly they are new to the site. My second was a realization that I have not mentioned this in some time now. Perhaps the time is right to say it again.

  • I cannot tell you the exact number of times, but I can tell you the percentage is quite high, that when I am called in to remove a “virus”, I will find a “file sharing program” installed on that machine. Cyber criminals like to plant trojans in files, and then “seed” the torrent sites with them. And they lose no sleep.. as you are trying to get something for nothing yourself.
  • “File sharing” is (in my mind, anyway) synonymous with “stealing”. I don’t steal.

So there you have it: it’s risky and “quasi-legal” (at best). I don’t do it. And anyone who asks me about torrents will get a copy of this article. (Can you guess? I do not recommend it?)

So where do I get my songs? (aka “today’s free download:”) Well, I “digitized” my records and tapes using a “Y” cable (to my stereo)($3) and the editing program Audacity (free).

“Audacity is an open source audio editor that is available for several platforms (including Windows, Mac, and Linux/Unix). It is one of the most popular free audio editors in use today mainly due to its excellent set of tools. As well being compatible with MP3, WAV, AIFF, and OGG file formats you can use Audacity to record live audio, and convert analog audio such as tapes.”

But if I had it to do over again, I would get a USB turntable.

Alternatively, I would use a legal music service. And, I would buy the DRM-free versions of the songs. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will point you to an article, titled: Buy Music Unfettered by Digital Rights Management

Competition is now wide open for these interoperable music files. Besides iTunes, millions of DRM-free files are available from Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, Zune, eMusic, and others. But each store has its own benefits and limitations: price, file quality, selection, and other quirks. Here’s how they all stack up in the DRM-free download world.”  Read more..

I know. 99% of you are LMAO-ing. What?! Buy music???!!!


Pay for it if you want it. The fact that “everyone is doing it” (torrents/file “sharing”) does not make it right.

Related: How To Digitize Your Old (Analog) Movies, Music, and Photos

Today’s quote:Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~ J.C. Watts

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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July 27, 2011 - Posted by | computers, cyber crime, digital music, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. TP,


    Honesty and Integrity always Wins in the end!!




    Comment by Bob Slyker | July 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Bob Slyker,
      Always good to see you here, and I appreciate the vote of confidence.

      I like a good ‘shortcut’ as much as anyone (saves steps+energy) but I try to stay clear of ‘shady’ ones…

      You know, it’s kind of funny, when I have asked someone, “you do realize that *software title* retails for $300.. how did you expect to get it for free?“… the answer I get is “No. I didn’t know..” then, “it is the Internet..”

      Ah. That magic Internet. Real money saver!


      Comment by techpaul | July 27, 2011 | Reply

  2. Well done, TechPaul! The musicians who compose and record that music deserve to get paid for it. Everyone likes a bargain, but most people need to get paid for their work.


    Comment by Hermit2003 | July 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Hermit2003,
      I imagine that there are folks out there who would argue with you.. and mention record labels, and outrageous DRM’s, and media monopolies/corporate greed, blah blah blah; but I would not be one of them.
      (And this issue goes beyond music, but to anything digital – movies, software/games, and so on.)

      Someone once said to me – long ago now – just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. I think of that often when I am thinking about our tech..

      Thank you for the vote of confidence. File sharing is so common, I know my sentiments are like a “lone voice in the wilderness”, and many readers will think I am simply very much “out of touch”. Be that as it may, (file swap, or not, your call) I feel compelled to warn of the dangers.


      Comment by techpaul | July 27, 2011 | Reply

  3. Great post Paul. From what I hear, the larger ISPs are going to step up their policing of illigal download without waiting for the government to force on them. I’m sure that won’t stop those with “mad” quality Internet savvy, but it does promise to shut down a lot of the point-and-click crowd.


    Comment by IzaakMak | July 27, 2011 | Reply

    • IzaakMak,
      I could be wrong, but I think any “policing” the ISP’s do will be because “bandwidth” is already being stretched beyond tolerance (gotta invest in the “infrastructure”) and they may see it as a way to get a vile (IMHO) pay-for-use rate scale into effect.
      (Arguing that evil torrent users will be the ones ‘punished’ by such a policy.. [because sending big files uses the bandwidth] when the truth is it will mostly just gouge those who frequently stream video [such as Netflix users..] as the torrents can be throttled .. hmm.. I seem to have found a future article topic..)


      Comment by techpaul | July 27, 2011 | Reply

      • I hadn’t thought of it that way Paul, but that does make more sense than them doing it just a way to limit piracy. But speaking of bandwidth issues, the whole Solving the Debt Ceiling Crisis … With Spectrum? thing has got my “spidey sense” tingling. As if I don’t already pay my cable company enough money, this issue threatens to lock down their stranglehold on TV services even more!


        Comment by IzaakMak | July 27, 2011 | Reply

        • IzaakMak
          There are battles being fought.. yes, indeedy.

          Sometimes I enjoy thinking “big picture” (history is my ‘hobby) and other times I think it best to just stick my head in the sand (such as turning off the news) and focus on doing the best job I can on what’s in front of me.

          Thanks for the reading reco.


          Comment by techpaul | July 27, 2011 | Reply

  4. Great article Paul

    I’m with you all the way. I do NOT share files. It IS stealing (not to mention stupid and dangerous). While people laughed at me, I used a USB turntable and ripped all my vinyl LPs and whatever application I was using to rip my CDs (which happened to be Roxio 7.5 at the time), all at 320 kbps. There are really very few songs I care to purchase, but there are some. And, now that they are offering 256 and 320 kbps I’m more inclined to make those purchases, particularly if I can get DRM-free versions (probably cheaper and definitely less time-consuming than using a “good” USB turntable too).

    Now, I have had some folks point out that I don’t need the higher resolution, because they can hear no difference between 128 kbps and 320 kbps. It is a point well taken. I blew my ears out at Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Ted Nugent concerts in the early 70’s. I’m lucky I can hear at all. However, CD quality music is 320 kbps. I refuse to pay for anything less. Specifically, I can see the attenuation at the low and high end of the audio spectrum in my sound editor and playback software EQ displays. OK, maybe I can’t hear the difference, but my kids can. If I’m going to pay a buck for a song, I want full CD quality. When I surprise my children (term used loosely) by putting on a song by a band like Shinedown, Creed, Godsmack or whomever, I want them to hear a CD quality song.

    OK, sorry about the side-rant…

    This is new information to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to post the article.

    Thanks, and best regards!


    Comment by kstinman | July 28, 2011 | Reply

    • kstinman,
      I have to thank you, as your comment reminded me of something I had not thought of in a very long time.. (sigh)(‘ole Tech Paul is getting old..) My first rock concert: 1978’s Day On The Green #5 – Ted Nugent, Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Derringer.
      (.. think I paid $7 for the ticket..)

      I am afraid I am not enough of a music buff to know (or worry about) my bps’s, but I do know that some (most?) of the industry “anti-piracy measures” (DRM) have been poorly conceived, implemented, and enforced (it is absolutely outrageous to me that one should have to re-purchase your music if your hard drive dies, or you upgrade your OS [Apple]) that make the studios (and/or “stores”) look like greedy tyrants – or, in the case of the “Sony rootkit scandal”, worse. This causes me to prefer to buy a CD than a ‘download’.. but then, I was conditioned in my youth to buy the whole record to get the one song I wanted…
      I digress: DRM – free is the way to go. IMHO.


      Comment by techpaul | July 28, 2011 | Reply

      • My first concert was Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969… Four bucks per ticket.

        Those were the days!!!


        Comment by kstinman | July 29, 2011 | Reply

        • CCR… um, wasn’t their big hit “Help“.. or something like that? (Just kidding.. I think it was Susie Q..)

          Hard to imagine getting tickets to bands at their peak for just $4.. (or seeing 5 top artists, playing all day long, for $10).. unless you were there. I have no idea what tickets are these days, and I am afraid to ask..


          Comment by techpaul | July 29, 2011 | Reply

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