This is sort of humorous ... but, technically, it could happen at a stretch (humorous though it may be).
It's humorous because my activity around such issues is extremely infrequent.
Compared to the average internet savvy 17 year old ... my few downloads from open/public directories is sort of akin to a grain of sand on a beach.
Most kids will download, literally, gigabytes a month from file sharing networks and otherwise ... so how come the feds aren't knocking on their doors a thousand times a day?
I'm not a big music downloader, never have been.
I have, however downloaded some music in the past few months.
The music I download is generally from sites covered by The Fair Use Act ... folks who publish mix cd's for public review, etc.
Also, there are some sites like Glorious Noise which comb the internet for free releases from Indie artists and then make them available for download from their main site.
All perfectly legal to the best of my knowledge.
And lastly, I sometimes will use google to search for open directories containing MP3 files ... again, something I'm pretty sure is acceptable as persons like myself could just as well consider such files free releases as not since they have no accompanying information applied to them or otherwise indication of being copyrighted material.
The practice of searching for music with google however, on my part anyway, is rather limited ... and since the files found in open directories are generally of sub standard quality, I will always purchase the CD in the long run.
More on Using Google to find MP3's
The following is copied from About.com and is a pretty good introduction in how to search for .MP3's with google:
There's an easy way to find free MP3 files with Google; actually, there's quite a few easy ways. Here's one (this particular method via Tech-Recipes):
-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" mp3
Okay, so let's break this down. You are attempting to find directories, so you don't want a a Web page (hence the minus sign in front of both the htm and html extensions). You're looking for the root directory, so that's where the "index of" in the title (intitle) comes in. And that mp3 file designation? You can change that to any file you are wanting to look for: wma, pdf, etc.
Now, how about looking for specific artists? Easy:
-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 "beethoven"
Make sure you put the artist's name in quotes at the end of the search string.
Now, there's another way to do this that might be a little bit easier; you're just changing the order of your search query around.
intitle:index.of + mp3 + "beethoven" -html -htm -txt
Basically, you're doing the same thing that you did in the first search string. You can narrow it down even further if you want to:
"index of" + intitle:mp3 + beethoven
All you're doing here is looking for directories with MP3 in the title and Beethoven.
...So there you have it from About.com ... an easy way to find MP3's via google searches.
I must say, it's rather effective.
I've downloaded MP3's using this method only a few times in the past three months and since it's searching random public root directories, I can find no reason for why it would be prosecutable to download such content.
Much more likely, in the event that some authority or otherwise were observing a user downloading content in such a way ... and should said authority have issue with such activity ... the norm is for the ISP to contact the individual to request that such activity be halted (or otherwise, even ... to simply inform the user that it is indeed questionable traffic).
Using file sharing networks is another story, however as the intention there is, blatantly, to purposefully make copyrighted works available for download.
That's my own non-professional take on things, however and I could well be wrong.
That said, I use, and would suggest you yourself use some discretion in finding content via such methods; it's a gray area to be sure ... but one that theoretically could be problematic.
The most appropriate use of such activity is to simply demo artists and then purchase the CD.
Yet the rumors 'on the street,' as it were, have indeed indicated that those behind the rather winded, and at this point completely peculiar, investigation of myself (the reputable and supposed internet criminal) do wish to grasp at this particular straw that they see in my downloading of the occasional MP3.
That it would be a foot in the door.
That it would start the ball rolling.
That it would be a gateway event into a more winded, mandated deliberation on any and all past and present actions involving the use of computers, up to and including my decades ago role as administrator of the notoriously 37173 hack board, HoWL! BBS (as well loose discussions around topics like pirated software, internet porn, pedophilia, child stalking, my own sexual history, details of past romantic partners, favorite flavors of ice cream, my racial preferences in partners, where I was on a given night, what my alibi is, what I have to say for myself, bank robbery, home invasions prompted by supposed undieing affections/obsessions with ex-girlfriends, where I keep my supposed stash of drugs and weed, my drinking habits, how often I masturbate, who my first sexual partner was, if I've had a homosexual experience, whether or not I tortured small animals as a child, whether my pupils just dialated or not, what I find frightening, how I feel about my Mother, my relationship with my siblings and what my most recent video rental happened to be.)
Yes. Those topics and more are the end all be all desires of the whackos running the investigation.
And yes ... I've recently heard they want to use MP3 downloading as a potential spark to get the whole party going.
(I mean, lacking anything else, really ... who can blame them?
this post is intended to be supplemental to the facts made public in my main website, http://www.jbhfile.com/; it probably will not make much sense to you if you have not already made yourself aware of the legal and personal efforts discussed in that site. please see http://www.jbhfile.com/ for a necessary introduction into why this blog exists. or, if you just like reading weird stuff, then don't. and, enjoy.