Some of us may have been too young to remember when Napster came out. It’s okay to come out of hiding now and admit we have a few Napster-downloaded tracks still floating around on our iPods. Lars Ulrich and his band of millionaire music-makers already had their field day arresting 14-year-olds for downloading music.
Since then, there has been a rise in legal downloading venues online. With the surge of Apple’s family of portable music players and iTunes, they’ve created a lucrative side-project with their iTunes Store. Costing an extra buck, one can download that special track from the latest diva’s premiere album. This gives you instant gratification and keeps you from having to find parking at Borders, and even eliminates those wasted dollars spent buying overpriced albums at Tower Records (R.I.P).
The rise of the BitTorrent downloading protocol encouraged peer-to-peer file sharing. From this we saw Torrent search engines like Mininova and Pirates Bay provide one search field for varying forms of media. Regardless, this is still considered illegal.
A possible cure to all these ills emerged in late January. Qtrax advertises itself as the world’s first free and absolutely legal peer-to-peer downloading station. Expecting a platform holding over 25 million songs, they put the likes of the iTunes Store to immediate shame. With zero adware or spyware promised, you won’t get that unwanted porn site subscription just because you downloaded The Beatles’ discography.
Apparently, Qtrax works directly with the record labels and music publishers. These groups have licensed their products for online distribution and get paid through the money Qtrax makes from advertisers. You don’t have to sign away any first-borns either, since the software can be downloaded for free.
Qtrax came out of the woodwork recently and still has a few kinks here-and-there to iron out. It has applied digital rights management technology (DRM) on its vast library of downloadable songs. This means the songs are attached to the specific computer they are downloaded on to protect it from being distributed outside Qtrax’s control. So put your iPods back because there’s no way to effectively make the music you download portable.
Put your Macs back, too. Currently, the Qtrax player is only compatible with Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, though an elusive “in the future” is promised to Mac OS X and Linux users. With Qtrax on the horizon, Apple stands outside a potentially growing world where everyone’s music may be coming from in the future.
For this reason, we may see a slow and dreary acceptance of Qtrax into our class-riddled and study-burdened college lives. The Apple brands are far more popular with young adults in today’s media-frenzied world than ever before. While we may have finally found a way to enjoy free music, in all the liberally distributed glory it’s meant to have, Qtrax might make it hard for the vast majority of media connoisseurs to effectively enjoy their services.
Qtrax could be the precedent for a world of legally free music to come. However, there are still some grey areas in its mission statement. Having falsely and perhaps prematurely announced contracts with industry bigwigs EMI, SonyBMG, Universal and Warner Music Groups, Qtrax emerges on shaky grounds.
Music is free in a theoretical sense. It was argued in the early days of broadcasting that the airwaves are a natural resource and should not be used for profit. The concept of music is just stylistically bringing together various natural resources for a finished product of a song. Viewed in this way, we’re all free to obtain what’s already free by whatever means available.
Regardless, it’s absolutely amazing to have this idea of free and legal downloading in possible fruition thanks to the emergence of Qtrax.
Filed Under: A & E