my personal blog

June 16, 2006

The Library… An Untapped Free Music Source

Filed under: music,technology — Alfonso Surroca @ 5:11 pm

With all the headlines file-sharing garners these days, I find it interesting that old-fashioned offline methods of sharing music have essentially gone unnoticed. Instead of risking a strong-arm lawsuit from the RIAA by searching peer-to-peer sites, you can find a wealth of free music at a place from some of the tech-minded public might have forgotten: your local public library system.

I thought of this as I was reading a great article over at with a list of ways to beat the recording industry without getting on their radar. This includes methods such as supporting only non-RIAA affiliated bands and labels (including your local bands!), borrowing CDs from friends, and recording music from internet radio. Despite having a great collection of starting points in your search for non-lawsuit-generating free music, I found no mention of the library; in fact, I’ve never found an article mention the library.

Remember the Library?

Perhaps in the tech-aided world we live in, where we talk through social networking sites and read news from news aggregators parsing RSS feeds, we’ve forgotten how we used to get deep information on a topic or read something new and interesting: By getting books at the library. In addition to stacks of books, the average public library system has a wealth of other media, including a lot of good music CDs.

It’s so simple, really. You walk into your local public library branch and peruse the shelves, or go to your public library system’s website and look through its entire music catalog until you find something that meets your fancy. Then, you borrow all the music CDs you want (my local library allows you to take 10 CDs at a time), rip them to your computer, and return them. Unless your local library is incredibly far away, this should all take less time than it would to search for and download nearly a dozen full albums on torrent sites, file-sharing forums, or Google.

Rinse, Repeat

Keep doing this as much as you want until you’ve got yourself a large collection. A large collection which you can rip in any format you choose, and likely to be free of any draconian DRM technology. Try as they might to search peer-to-peer networks for pirates victims, the RIAA won’t find your stash because the only “paper trail” is on your personal computer and at the library. And to look through either would be an invasion of your privacy. And to prove that you actually copied the music, you would have to have access to both.

The library has been a public resource of information long before the internet was conceived, and its relevance today has not waned by any means. Where downloading non-purchased music can be a moral and legal quagmire, getting it from your local library falls into more of a gray area. Whether or not you (or the powers that be) think it’s still wrong, it’s definitely safer than downloading. So, pay your local library a visit.

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1 Comment

  1. now be very very quiet or the music Gestapo will hear and then they’ll get out the flamethrowers

    Comment by jmnlman — June 20, 2006 @ 1:00 am

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