Lawful File Sharing Resources
File sharing is a risky activity, in part, because peer-to-peer technology does not help you determine whether what you're doing is lawful or not. In many circumstances, you could be violating the law if you upload or download someone else's copyrighted works (which, if you are using University networks or equipment, is also a violation of University policy).
There are, however, many works copyright holders—of both music and other media—intentionally make available through p2p technology and there are also works in the public domain that are lawful for you to download. It is not always easy to determine this, so be as careful as possible in choosing what to download.
There are many companies that sell electronic access to digital works and you can purchase works through these vendors. Be sure to read the conditions of service carefully. This is a buyer beware environment. There are sham companies that appear to be operating lawfully, but are not.
Lawful downloading of music is possible through sites such as Apple iTunes, MSN Music, and Rhapsody, among others. Details about a number of these sites are available at Buying Digital Music Online—Overview of Popular Music Services and Campus Downloading.
The University of Michigan currently does not directly offer students any music download service. Until recently, the University's Internet Service Provider, Merit, enabled university students to gain access to some services and works through Ruckus, but as of February 2009, Ruckus is no longer in business.
The University of California, Berkeley provides additional information about legal file sharing resources. It is important to note that these resources may come and go, so it is up to individual consumers to check out the legal status of any music downloading service they might wish to use.