March 7, 2005 12:03 PM PST

Legal reprieve for Russian MP3 site?

Moscow prosecutors have declined to press criminal charges against a popular Internet site that sells MP3s for just pennies, according to Russian news reports.

Record industry groups in the United States and Europe are trying to close the Russian AllofMP3.com, which offers downloads of MP3s--including songs from The Beatles and other groups that have not authorized digital distribution--for just a few cents per song.

Late last month, Moscow police completed an investigation of the issue and recommended to prosecutors that the site be charged with copyright violations. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) also submitted a formal complaint about the site.

On Friday, Russian news agency Tass reported that prosecutors had declined to press criminal charges, citing specifics of Russian copyright law.

A spokeswoman for IFPI said Monday that the organization had not heard an official response from the Moscow prosecutors.

"We have received no confirmation of any decision, and we do not expect it for some time," said IFPI spokeswoman Fiona Harley. "However, if it is true that the prosecutor has not taken the case this would be very disappointing, considering the blatant and large-scale infringement that continues to take place."

The tussle over AllofMP3.com highlights the difficulties that copyright companies are having around the world, faced with myriad versions of laws that are often imperfectly adapted to new Internet distribution models.

The Russian site says it has legal rights to sell the music in the form of licenses from the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society. Record labels say that group does not have the authority to grant distribution rights to their music.

Similar issues have arisen in Spain, where a pair of Net companies began distributing music online citing the approval of local license authorities. Record labels sued both, but only one--Weblisten.com--remains in operation.

The IFPI spokeswoman said the group would pursue the case further if the Moscow prosecutor takes no action.

7 comments

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Woo-hoo!
I wasn't expecting anything else, as those recording associations have already been dealt a series of set-backs in Russia. Although, admittedly, the whole licensing issue is somewhat shady and downright confusing.
Posted by Rusdude (170 comments )
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This is good news
Looks like the RIAA has given allofmp3.com more free advertising.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
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Yup....
I'd definately download from there before I would "iTunes"
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
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This is big news guys! come on
and post your reply! The RIAA can't get their way.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
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Indeed, this copyright crap is going a little too far!
I use allofmp3.com all the time and, in all honesty, I think its an awesome site! So far, the best part about AllOfMP3 is that, due to the fact it contains far more artists and albums than most other music sites, it has introduced me to some of the most interesting artists and music (from around the world) Ive ever heard of--much of which Ive NEVER heard of before!

Although I do feel sorry for the artists losing some money due to the cheap downloads, I think its time for all of todays musicians to realize that music is ripped and shared for *free* a few billion times per month worldwide! I think its also time that, with all-due respect to the musicians, if musicians care about making lots of money--especially those who are greedy, they should consider at least finding other jobs as well in addition to their music career. Look at some of the acting careers many musicians have, for example!

After all, this IS a changing world and, as for most other non-musicians these days, people are changing careers more and more often. Considering that, if I was a musician and/or someone that produced material that can easily be freely distributed and copied all over the world, I would consider holding at least one second profession in addition to music.

Bottom line is this. Is it better to have a site like allofmp3.com continue running so that there is *some* money being made, OR take the site down and risk all of its former users getting into the habit of file sharing--thus increasing the amount of file sharing worldwide substantially?

Lee
Posted by VikingByNature (2 comments )
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I have spent more on cheap site music...
I have spent more on cheap site music than I would have spent buying CDs. I've broadened my range of music to way more artists than ever before.

This helps ALL musicians. The only ones getting hurt are the layers upon layers of bureaucrats in the record industry who account for the extreme markup in CDs. Musicians make next to NOTHING off the sales of CDs - their take is mostly from concerts and appearances.

Having 10-fold the audience that they would normally have if it weren't for these types of sites only helps the musicians' pocket books.

The simple fact is that technology has changed and the record industry has refused to adapt. By standing firm in their monopoly on music distribution, they are intentionally stifling the market and causing a lot of harm to small time musicians.

If the government wants to actually protect commerce for once, they should slap the record industry and break up the monopoly. And the bastards in the RIAA ought to be brought up on racketeering charges for suing middle class families for all their worth just because their 11 year old daughter "stole" a few songs from a group of thieves.

F' the RIAA!!!!
Posted by dsshokie (1 comment )
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