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YouTube allows for free downloads; one columnist shares his thoughts
Duke Sullivan shares his thoughts on YouTube downloads and what it means for the music industry.
Published 8/17/2012 6:00:00 AM
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Downloading music is not a recent development or even a new phenomenon across Internet culture. Rather, it’s become much more of a problem of piracy than anything else. With this, music, videos and anything else posted on YouTube became easy access for the web’s downloading community.

While users have long been able to grab YouTube clips with Flash rippers and stream downloading equipment, recent development on YouTube made downloading from the site itself just a click away. This is the first time such an option has appeared on the site as an official offering.

YouTube gives video owners the ability to make their content available for download if they choose to do so. Using Creative Commons licensing, owners can offer videos for free or predetermined prices and allow viewers to purchase their content.

This feature offers viewers a great way to download YouTube artist originals, arrangements and covers without having to go through the risks involved with third-party programs. This, in itself, is a great way to take the music we love on the road with us without having to access each individual track through YouTube.

YouTube says this process is rolling out slowly, initially with content that aspires to be consistent with principles of open government. As content has always been taken from the site, YouTube discusses that it is a valuable step that they encourage and support this sharing.

On the contrary, many videos for signed, popular artists have the download option available. In this, viewers can download content as either video or audio files. Users avoid fees attributed to purchasing music by using this feature.

This is where the download option appears to be too good to be true. If the download option enables piracy, it would suggest that there is an issue with legality. If the content is not subjected to copyright, then no laws are being broken.

In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed in order to protect the intellectual property rights of content owners. The act also exempted the online service providers who host the pirated material from liability. However, while they do take steps to prevent it, YouTube hosts material that breach copyright on an everyday basis, and thus gives further reason to believe that the download tool encourages piracy.

While YouTube says that content owners must select the download option, the content is largely made available free of charge.  And because those that upload the videos do not own most of the content, this may become a problem with piracy and/or copyright law.

It may be too soon to understand how this development will play out, but for now, I suppose YouTube users can enjoy the endless amount of content the site hosts without having to deal with outside sources.

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