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Limewire.com is a totally FREE download service for music and DVD quality video files. Through the miracle of the internet we are now all able to listen to our favorite musician's and watch our favorite actors in all their latest releases without having to pay a penny. In fact this system of shared files has been going on for years, with the music industry desperately trying to destroy Napster in the States, and eventually succeeding, it was obvious that nobody was going to stop it. So here we have the latest incarnation in Limewire, a service I have been using for several years and have gradually seen it improve in quality and depth in those years.
How does it work? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Because in reality it is illegal (will get to the legality later) to obtain this data without the permission of the copy write holders it was never going to be possible that the data for all the songs and films in the world could be stored in one place it became obvious a new method was required to get round the logistical problem and the legal one. Thus the idea of file sharing was born, we all have some storage available on our hard drives so all the people who are interested in downloading this data would in return share the data they already had with anybody who happened to log onto limewire at the same time as them. Simple really but a work of genius, and this basically makes it extremely difficult for anyone to catch up with the website. From the individual's perspective all you need to do is go to limewire.com click on the download button, it will actually take you to a download website then accept the download. Once you have done this you need to find a place to store your own data, I chose My Documents and off you go. Obviously the process to get them onto c.d.'s is a little more complicated but you can still listen to them at your computer. The front end is very simple, you simply type either the name of the artist, the song or the album, in the case of films the title or the director, into the search section, it then offers you lots of options, you hover over the options and it gives you some info, chose the one you want and press download.
What's available? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is the wonderful thing about file sharing, basically as far as music is concerned absolutely anything you want is available. For the first few years of using the service I had not totally grasped the depth of what was available. I downloaded my favorite old school dance classics from the 90's then some of the great indie music from the late 80's then occasionally some dodgy early 80's tunes and that was about as far as my need went. However last year my 56 year old mum was round at my flat when I was downloading some and she asked if I could get some songs for her which quite frankly could have been from the dark ages for all I knew and I was not so confident, but hey presto! There they appeared just like all my other songs. I explored further….40's music, 30's music some kick ass 20's tunes, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, was there no end to what was available. Ok so I sound like a bit of a sad b*****d but the point is there are no age limits, no limits on taste and no reason why all the good people I see on Ciao should not also be using this service. I might add I rarely use Limewire for films because the download time is so long as you might expect, and a few quid from Blockbusters….its a lot easier. If you don't live near a Blockbusters then maybe this is a good way to see the new films and a few before they are released over this side of the Atlantic.
Ok so there are a few things you need to be aware of:
~ Not every download is successful, this is usually down to the person who has the file you are downloading rather rudely turning their computer off.
~ There is a chat and search engine option with the site but I really did not like them, they feel like add-ons or an afterthought and there are links to places where you can actually purchase products which is mainly how limewire makes its money.
~ Every time you open limewire you will be asked if you want to upgrade to a monthly subscription charge, whereby you get a much faster service, I always click on the "later" icon as I do not see the point of paying for this service, it is a little irritating though.
~ The length of time of the downloads can be issues for some people depending on the speed of your internet access, like a lot of people I have broadband so it takes about 5 minutes on average for a song and awful long time for a film. Dial up will take about double that time.
~ A lot of people use the site to pass pornographic material so be very sure you have the correct version before you download video's or movie clips, you don't want the other "Animal Farm"
~ Security and corruption of your computer. I do not believe this should put anyone off as I only have a moderate level of anti-virus software on my computer and I have never caught any terminal diseases from limewire (although I did from a totally different website about 4 years ago) However make sure you keep what you have got up to date.
Legal & moral debate ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As far as any legal debate, well there is not really a debate, your not really supposed to be doing this. However unless you are putting them on c.d.'s , going down to your local market and knocking them out to any passer by for a couple of pound you are not going to have any trouble from the long arm of the law. They are far too busy catching people doing 35mph and policing hippie protests. I would like to point out at this stage that I have only ever made copies for my own personal pleasure and a little tip, don't keep too many files on your computer, I have about 250 at the moment which is quite a lot. As for the moral debate about poor old Robbie Williams only signing a contract for £80 million rather than £90 million, well I really don't have much sympathy for that argument. I did think about the newer artists I downloaded but, for example a few years ago I put several Dirty Vegas songs on to my c.d.'s and at least 5 of my mates all heard them and went out and bought the album to get it in the full glory (as did I) so I do not think we are damaging anyone. To some degree I think it helps them.
Apologies for the rambling soapbox stuff but this site has genuinely enriched my life and know it could do the same for anyone who has not experienced free downloads. All you need to have is a computer, which I am guessing you may have and some speakers and Bob's your uncle. Enjoy free aural pleasure!