Did you catch the Nightline story on this last night? You "can now" download commercial releases LEGALLY in New Zealand through a service called Digirama. Umm, so what the hell is Amplifier.co.nz then - a mirage?
You register at Digirama (which was simple), then browse and add your chosen songs to your shopping cart much like any other shopping website. At the time of publishing this post, the selection was VERY poor. The only major record companies to subscribe are FMR, Warners and Wildside.
If you have ever downloaded any audio from the net, or through the likes of P2P filesharing like Warez, KaZaA, Morpheus or old Napster - mp3 is a great standard to go with - and most say anything higher than 128kbps is sufficient for everyday listening.
The sad and very unfortunate news is that all songs downloaded from digiRAMA are 128kbps WMA (Windows Media Audio) format which offers "superior sound quality" and a small file size. Superior sound quality? It's shit.
I also have to mention that the WMA files are coded with DRM protection - a license that limits use to the computer you downloaded it to - rendering this entire project void - plus the restrictions a-plenty to where you can transfer it - your brand new iPod is not compatible sorry.
This is Microsoft at their ingenius best, by limiting playback to WMA audio in turn alienating the digital music world (as we all use mp3s fools) and being a complete pack of tossers in the process because - whoopdeshit, you must use Internet Explorer to pay for your music at the checkout. So let me get this straight, you want me to punch in my Visa details in a browser with all them security holes for all the world to see?? You gotta be kidding..
I say: Wait for iTunes - however long that will be. The music industry will bend over (they already are with this effort). Audio quality will be much better and prices probably similar but shit nana, once you've paid for your copy you can do what the hell you like with it (obviously within reason/law). Smear it over your body, lick it or whatever.