The Russian government has agreed to shut down Web site AllofMP3, which offers downloadable MP3 songs for a significant discount--20 cents per song or less--compared with stores such as Apple's iTunes.
The site was controversial because it paid royalties to a Russian organization that was not recognized by the record industry. In 2005, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) filed suit in Russian court to shut the site down, but its request was denied by Russian prosecutors. Now, apparently under pressure from U.S. trade representatives, who are pressing for stricter copyright enforcement before agreeing to admit Russia to the World Trade Organization, the Russian government has stepped in.
According to the TorrentFreak blog, AllofMP3 had 6 million customers before the shutdown. A couple years ago, I considered downloading some music from the site--mainly Led Zeppelin songs that I was too lazy to digitize from my record collection, and which aren't available in most online music stores--but I balked at sending my credit card number to a Russian organization that I wasn't completely familiar with.
The shutdown appears to have taken effect--the site is timing out as of 10 a.m. (Pacific) on July 3. Or maybe that's just everybody rushing to get a last few downloads in. Regardless, fans will simply migrate to one of the other discount MP3 sites, or just continue using file-sharing networks or Google to download free files.
Once again, everybody: audio CDs aren't copy-protected. That root problem is not going away.