Not anymore. The company has dropped the P2P functionality of their service and gone legit – sort of. Due to the declining quantity and quality of the MP3s available over the Gnutella network, as well as mounting legal concerns, they have decided to reposition themselves as YouTube downloading technology.
The client works as it did before, but with one exception. When users search for music, the results that they are given are derived from YouTube. Upon choosing a file, what MP3 Rocket does is it downloads the video and it conveniently converts it into an MP3. The process takes a little longer now due to the size of the video and the added conversion process, but it's now legal, according to the company.
Users don't obtain copies of music (that's illegal). Instead, they "time shift" audio from publically available YouTube streams. "The practice of 'Time Shifting' allows users to view and/or listen to a work or sound recording that is publicly broadcast at a time of their choosing," MP3 Rocket explains in a press statement. "Using the same ruling that makes it legal to record television at home MP3 Rocket has made recording Internet broadcasts to your computer a viable option as well."
That's right folks, the company has pulled the Betamax card.
Considering that a YouTube downloading tool is the number three most popular software download on download.com, this move to reposition MP3 Rocket is both ballsy and forward-thinking. Will this appease the RIAA boses and get the music industry off their case? Absolutely not. But you have to admit. It's kind of clever.
The downloads will, for the most part, be piss poor, but users also won't have to worry about the harmful viruses and malware that the RIAA loves to talk about.
Wanna time shift some music? It's probably still illegal.
Read a fantastic op-ed by Alan Lastufka on this topic here.