Are Your Child’s Music Downloads Legal?

Almost everyone has downloaded music at some point in their online lives. Whether through an online service or a peer to peer network, chances are, if you’re online, you’ve downloaded music before. If you haven’t, you are part of the vast minority of people that are have not gotten involved in music downloading in some way. The issue of the legality of downloading music has been brought up lately in the news media and even in the court system. Legal download sites like Rhapsody or LegalSounds have really taken off in the last few years. Some peer to peer networks that used to be illegal, like Napster or Kazaa have made the switch to legal methods.

With so many places out there to download music from, how is a parent to discern the difference between legal and illegal? On the surface, it’s fairly easy to tell the difference. If you pay money for the downloads, it’s legal. If you don’t pay, pack your toothbrush, because you are stealing. Now, these are pretty generalized statements, but for the most part, they are true. Dig a bit deeper into the idiosyncrasies of each site or service, and you can find illegal downloads that cost money and free downloads that are legal. Confused yet? Don’t feel left out, you’re in good company. Many parents don’t know their kids are downloading illegally until their ISP shuts off their service or the FBI knocks on their door.

The first and best thing you can do to make sure your kids are downloading legal music is to make sure they know the difference. True, most kids already know the difference and do it wrong anyway, but education remains the best defense against illegal activity. The second thing you can do is sign them up for a downloading service yourself instead of leaving it up to them. If you make it clear that the only way they can download music is through approved channels, they may be less likely to go over to the wrong side of the law. Of course, this plan of action costs you money, but you can make it part of your kids’ allowances if it’s that important to them to download music.

The other benefit that you’ll find in monitoring your kids’ music downloads is that you are able to keep track of what they are listening to. Most legal programs will keep a record of what files you’ve purchased or downloaded, so you can always go through the history file to see if they are listening to anything you find objectionable. Don’t be afraid to say no. Teenagers can be very willful, so be clear and firm with the rules. Make it clear that illegally downloaded music is not welcome in your house.

Have a great day

Lawrence