MP3, a word suggested by Mattias, is the acronym for Motion Picture Experts Group, Audio Layer 3. Oh really? In fact, it’s the term used for a sound file (music) that has been compressed so it takes up less space on your computer or CD player, without any significant loss of sound quality. A 74 minute audio CD can hold almost 740 minutes of MP3, with the quality of an MP3 being comparable to that of a CD. An MP3 file is easy to download and very quick to transfer as it does not weigh much. This explains why MP3 has led to an explosion of music sharing on the web. It only takes a click to send an MP3 by email to all your friends. An MP3 file can be read (or rather, listened to) on a variety of media: computers, iPods, smartphones and CD players, as well as the newer laptops and video games consoles. MP3 is a name with positive echoes on the web because it symbolises the democratisation of music. For the music business, though, MP3 is a nightmare scenario.
Downloading an MP3 file is free, easy and quick … but it’s not always legal. There’s the rub. The law allows you to make copies in MP3 for your own use, provided you own the original files. In other words, you have to buy the CD in order to have the right to copy it, and even then those copies cannot be distributed more widely than your family circle. So, you can forget your friends. That said, you can get clips of music quite legally in MP3 on certain websites: internet radio websites: the law does not prohibit recording anything broadcast on a web radio. Increasing numbers of radios make it possible to listen to their music programmes on the web. Thanks to the "Goldwave" programme you can make copies that are comparable in quality to pirated CDs. sites offering clips in podcast form (clips recorded and put on line so you can listen to them whenever you wish). This means you can do a google search for the name of the piece of music followed by “MP3”. Google will offer you several results, so you choose one of them, then choose the title you want and right click on the “save as” option to save it onto your desktop, and that’s it. It’s not always certain in these cases that you will actually have the right to download MP3 files, it all depends on the site. Treat it as an orange alert….
If you’re a worrier, it’s better to choose the paid option, and use a programme like iTunes. By downloading this programme you can listen to 30-second extracts of millions of pieces of music, and if you like the "samples" you can buy the whole thing, with one click and the help of your bank card.