So fucking what?
Suck it up. Join eMusic. Spring for an iTunes gift card. Patronize your local mom 'n' pops while you still can, or cruise the shrinking Best Buy/Wal-Mart music sections.
[jump] Stop stealing from the dinner plates of journeyman musicians, niche iconoclasts, faded icons, and massive pop stars.
Maybe more important from a narcissistic, me-first perspective: quit ushering malware and spyware into your harddrive like blood engorged mosquitos.
Sure, it's fun to load up on albums and singles for next-to-nothing. But take it from someone who's shelled out a couple hundred dollars to various computer experts over the last couple years: bugs are no joke, and if you depend on your home PC for work, play, or personal finance, you're playing yourself.
A relative introduced me to LimeWire back around the time the RIAA launched its suit; for a small annual fee, one could partake in a shared cornucopia of aural offerings. Depeche Mode? Missy Elliott? Nirvana? High On Fire? Devin the Dude? Right on. Releases by more obscure artists - Wolf Eyes, Soft Circle, Birchville Cat Motel - were harder to come by, but ideally, the scrilla you didn't have to plunk down for early Deerhoof or Kings of Leon discs could finance physical versions of super-duper-underground fare. The relative plundered the site constantly; his finds and dispatches inspired enough envy in me that I eventually downloaded a copy of whatever iteration of LimeWire was available at that point, paying whatever the annual fee was (around $17, I think) and leaping it with both feet.
It was fun - for a while, until the files I was downloading buried my system under a metric ton of malignant, opportunistic infections that took a computer whiz working out of his converted garage almost three weeks and $300 to flush out.
Now that's a sour aftertaste.
(I probably don't need to tell you this, but mediafire, sharebee, zshare, and usershare links? Those are just as bad, if not worse - so I've heard, anyway. Be very afraid, if you aren't already.)
There's a convenience, isn't there, to having the latest Lil B cranium twister immediately available at the click of an iPod; as a music critic, I find that sort of ease and availability beguiling. It allows me to multi-task, to get a feel for a recording or an artist while walking the dog or vacuuming the house or running errands or reading a book; it means that I don't have to be leashed to a computer to listen. But unless I pay for what I want to hear - or, if what I want to hear isn't purchasable, utilize the music streaming feature available on most blogs and web sites - I'm taking my wallet, system, and maybe ultimately my credit history into my own hands. And so, potentially, are you - if you allow the same sort of cognitive dissonance that suckers smokers into believing that they won't wake up with cancer one day to govern the way that you acquire music.
Something to think about.