if you're reading this, you're either my friend or you will be soon. and you've probably heard of oink. either way, here's some background: oink was and hopefullywillagain be an invite-only torrent based music downloading site. they hosted torrent files which enabled you to share files with other like minded music enthusiasts(read below for more details on torrent technology). you could donate to oink if you wanted, but it was by no means necessary.
the guy who apparently ran oink was recently arrested in england, had his servers confiscated in amsterdam, and is now out on bail. i don't think that he's actually been charged yet, even though the arrest happened 2 weeks ago. it'll be intersting to see what happens with this case. i don't believe that a similar case, one involving the legality of sharing copyrighted files via torrent technology, has gone to court. oink was not like napster or kazaa where you download entrie files directly from a central server or directly from one other person. torrent files enable you to download different parts of single files from different people.
anyway, there has been an open discussion/argument among mp3 bloggers, blog readers, downloaders, etc. about oink being shut down. many people label oinkers as being freeloaders. as being people who feel that they have an inherit right to download music for free while not caring about contributing to the artists who made that music. i cannot speak to how the majority of oinkers feel, but i would like to share with you my thoughts. i've been using oink for over 1.5 years. i have gotten lot's of digital music for free. with that said, i also spend a lot of money on music.
i buy a lot of records. too much for my own good, really. i like to have the vinyl records (and cds, if no vinyl exists for that record) of the music i like. i like the big artork. and vinyl records sound better than cds and mp3s. i also go to many live shows. i usually bring friends. i always buy beers and i often times merchandise (bands will often get a % of booze sales or have a booze sales quota they need to reach). i like to support the bands whose music i love and respect.
besides directly supporting bands, i also turn on a lot of other people to music, who, in turn, spend money on music. i make mixes for my friends and family. these mixes kick ass so people are turned on to new artists and will sometimes buy their records and/or see their shows. and these people turn their friends and family on to these artists, and on and on and on, ad infinitum, for fucking ever.
that being said, i do download albums/songs whose records i never buy. i don't buy these albums because i simply can not afford to, or i don't care to because i don't like the music enough. i do not feel that, in and of itself, downloading music for free is immoral. if i don't have the money, i'm not going to buy the actual product anyway, whether or not i've already downloaded it. for me, and this might seem hard to believe, i spend as much money on music regardless of whether i've already gotten it for free. now, i'm sure that not all oinkers buy as much music, if at all, that they should. but i don't think the fact that some people do get all or most of their music for free, means that sites like oink shouldn't be allowed to exist. these sites, through responsible users, do allow relatively unknown bands to get word of mouth buzz, which ultimately does lead to some sales.
hypothetically, as an artist, i would want more people to hear my music. if it's through illegal downloads, so be it. i've heard that some artists posted their own things on oink. right before the site went down, a friend of mine said she wanted me to post her first album there. many artists, have gone on record to say that they don't mind if their music is downloaded illegally. See dj rupture, panda bear, trent reznor. dj rupture's comments are particularly well thought out, and touch on many aspects of idea of music downloading that mine didn't begin to.
on a side note: often times, lately, a purchase of a record comes with a free digital download (or cd) of the same record. this is a brilliant idea. eventually, hopefully all vinyl purchases will come with this offer. when i buy records that come with free downloads, i usually already have a downloaded copy. i go ahead and download that free digital copy anyway, to support the idea. the copies through oink have actually, always been of higher quality than their equivalent available through the free downloads. so, for you cd buyers out there, if you have any interest in branching out in to buying vinyl records, while still having a portable, digital copy, this recent phenomenon is good news for you.