Many people who download loops, samples, and music software think that they are getting use of materials that would have otherwise cost them at what they consider a much better price, free. But is it really free? There are other factors to be considered when searching the web for illegal downloads on unmonitored forums or illegal torrent sites. Such factors include risking viruses and identity theft from sites looking to steal precious information, losing all rights and publishing to materials made with illegally downloaded content, and lack of support.
One of the fastest growing crimes worldwide and especially in the United States of America is identity theft. It seems as if one can not watch television or listen to the radio for more than a half hour or so without seeing or hearing a commercial that is either selling a service to protect your identity, or promoting a certain credit card because of its identity theft protection. The simple fact is that sites that allow illegal downloading are not very concerned about protecting the users of their site as they are making their money off of membership fees or advertising. In the worst cases these sites are identity thieves, and the very download could contain a virus or trojan from either the site administrator or some other user that posted the content who are looking to access your most personal information. How valuable is that free construction loop set, sample pack, or music software if you download a virus that destroys your computer or you download a trojan that steals your identity? Many of the illegal download and torrent sizes are hosted in war-torn and poverty-stricken countries where identity theft runs rampant without effective oversight or enforcement.
Every sample sound provider and music software developer has what many like to call the fine print. Terms and conditions can be found in almost all modern digital content. These terms and conditions lay the ground rules for using what is extremely strictly licensed and not owned content. Many loop and sample sound companies explain that their product is royalty free as long as you add music and or vocals. It also forbids users from giving, borrowing, lending, selling, or otherwise distributing the content without the written permission of the content owner. Therefore, by the statue of the rules an individual that illegally uploads or downloads a product falls outside the rules of royalty free usage. Simply put, this means if one downloads a product unlawfully, makes a hit record, but can not show proof of purchase for forfeit all rights, publishing, and royalties while at the same time making them legally legiable. Many sample sound companies are now using watermarking technology that digitally marks and encodes all of their loops, sounds, and samples so that they can not track them at all times even if they are edited or included in other music.
I do not think I have every met a musician that enjoys reading a manual or following directions, but I do know the numbers by heart to many of support teams of the gear I own. I see product reviews all the time where customers make passionate claims for or against companies support performance. Sometimes it's just easier to pick up the phone and ask a question. Unfortunately, if you did not purchase the content legally you can not register it. If you do not register the product, you can not get any support. Many of the people who download content illegally do not stop to think about the all of the research and development dollars that go into the product, the cost of hiring support teams, marketing, printing and pressing, and distributing the product. They do not think about all of the work that goes into actually getting that product to the shelves. So in the absence of reliable support for an illegally downloaded product one is left to their own devices to find the answers for questions that they may have that relate to their studio setup. This takes time, and as they say, time is money.
Simply put, illegal downloading is stealing. It destroys the very product that the people who are illegally downloading the product love. It can cost the loss of data and files from virus, the loss of your identity, the loss of the rights to the music that you create with the illegally downloaded content, and the worst loss of all, time. Music software companies provide light edition versions of their products at reduced costs, and sample sound and loop developers provide free loops and sounds consistently for simply joining their newsletter. There are just too many affordable options available to pay the cost of illegal downloading.