The traditional method to buy your music is in CDs, and your movies in DVDs. You can also rent DVDs from the local video store.
These methods, however, have their limitations:
- they take up space
- they’re hard to carry around in large numbers
- you actually have to go out and buy/rent them
- the local video store might not have what you’re looking for
That’s why P2P (peer-to-peer) sharing technologies have such a big success: they’re easy to use, they’re fast, they provide content in portable electronic form (usually .mp3 for music and .avi for movies), they provide you with more choice than the local music/video store.
They also have the added benefit of being free. And due to this they also carry the risk of getting you into legal trouble (although AFAIK downloading is not illegal, sharing is).
Now, services are starting to appear that allow you to legally purchase content online, and enjoy the benefits listed above (minus the free part and the associated legal risks).
- For buying music there’s iTunes Store, Zune Marketplace, Rhapsody and others.
- Then you can also stream music from Last.fm, Pandora, Spotify and others.
- For watching movies in streaming there’s Netflix and Hulu.
There are always going to be people who prefer to download this stuff illegally if they can. However, services like these are offering people who would like to have the benefits mentioned above (and more) without breaking the law, buy paying a reasonable price. The only problem with these services is that a number of them is only available in a limited number of countries, and not on all operating systems…