Bobbyisms: Wide web of downloading
Now, I haven't asked anybody, but I'm betting that I can't actually say anything here that could be interpreted as endorsing the act of downloading music. Further, I'm not exactly an expert with verbal loopholes, but for the purpose of the exercise, let's just say that much of the rest of this article is hypothetical and/or told to me by a friend.
There's a lot of confusion when it comes to downloading music in Canada. Ars Technica published a great article in September that dispels a lot of the rumour and confusion (http://bit.ly/2X5xKd). The running belief is that it's legal to download music in Canada, as long as you don't upload the music in turn. This is not true — the loophole is actually in what you do with the music once you've downloaded it.
I can't find a reference to when it happened, but years ago the music industry convinced the government to introduce a levy on recording media (like blank CDs and DVDs) to cover losses due to ‘private copying.' So technically speaking, if you burn your downloaded music onto discs, you are not infringing copyright — the industry got their cut when you purchased the discs.
All the same, downloading is a tricky game. If you're dabbling in the world of torrents, you might want to look into a torrent search aggregator; sites like ScrapeTorrent (scrapetorrent.com) don't actually host the content themselves, but search all the others and link you to the results.
Keep in mind that standard mp3s are roughly one MB per one minute of music. Also, depending on the quality of the mp3s, entire albums will range on average from 60-100 MB in size. Keep this in mind when you're searching and always, always read the comments on the torrents themselves — your school computer is far too valuable to infect with viruses from bad uploads.
Not that you need torrents to enjoy music on the Internet; there are loads of social networking sites online that exist purely for the sharing and discovery of music. For example, Alan Cross hosts a great radio show called ExploreMusic — it and its website (exploremusic.com) exist solely for listeners to hear about new bands, albums, and projects.
Then there's The Hype Machine (hypem.com) that scours music blogs for you, offering its findings for download for a limited time. Or become a DJ on Blip.fm (blip.fm) to browse a real-time account of other people's recommendations.
These services and more link through Twitter and Facebook, so there are literally hundreds of ways to collect new music without getting into illegal territory. As always, keep your ears and your mind open. I'm out of words.