My job is to keep a few hundred Macs running in a school with hundreds of students. One question many students have is, “How can I download music from the internet?”
My response is, “Legally? Or, illegally?” They give me a funny look and walk away. On one student’s Mac I found an app that does it both ways.
The Musicbox Way
The legal ways for most Mac and PC users to download music can be counted on your fingers. iTunes, Amazon, and a handful of others let you buy and download music for use on your Mac, iPhone, or iPod (or other devices).
The illegal ways are everywhere, and a single Google search will reveal the apps and the sites.
The app I found on a student’s Mac is called Musicbox. It’s attractive and simple to use.
Find a site that has music and Musicbox can grab it, download it, convert it to the proper audio format, and stuff it into iTunes so you can move it to an iPhone or iPod or play it on a Mac.
It’s drag and drop. Find a URL to a web page with music, drop it on Musicbox and let it do the work.
The problem is that you have to find the music site first. Musicbox doesn’t give you a list of sites. Does it give you a warning that downloading some music might be illegal?
Yes. And no. From the FAQs:
Question: Is this illegal?
Answer: No. Musicbox is completely legal. It is up to the you to determine if you have rights to the songs that you are downloading. We strongly urge that if you enjoy the songs – support the artists.
Musicbox lets you choose to be legal or illegal. Or, both.
Question: Can anyone track my downloads?
Answer: Absolutely not. Your downloads appear just as if you were listening to the song. Musicbox is essentially “intercepting” the music on its way to your speakers.
IP addresses being what they are, that’s not quite true for the typical Mac user, but the answer reveals that Musicbox developers may expect the app to be used to acquire music illegally.
For example, you could set up an account on Pandora Radio and use Musicbox to intercept and acquire music in Safari.
That’s a rather simple way to obtain music for your iTunes collection or iPod with little worry about the RIAA’s lawyer goons knocking on your door and demanding reparations.
Yes, there are legitimate sites where music can be downloaded without legal or conscience consequences. And plenty of other sites where music may be acquired without regard to legality. Musicbox is a tool that undoubtedly is used for both.