“A Russian Web site that lets visitors download albums for less than $1 is a smash hit with music fans – but not with U.S. trade and music industry officials,” Alex Nicholson reports for The Associated Press. “According to a report by the Britain-based IXN data company, which compared traffic volumes on Web sites offering music downloads, Allofmp3 leapfrogged U.S. online music store Napster over the first half of the year to make it the second-most popular music site in the U.K. after iTunes.”
“But popular or not, the site is already under criminal investigation by Russian prosecutors and has been picked out by the U.S. Trade Representatives Office as an example of Russia’s bad record on tackling piracy. Allofmp3, officials say, is jeopardizing Russia’s WTO [World Trade Organization] bid as it seeks to reach an accession deal with the United States,” Nicholson reports. “The site warns users to check to make sure they are not violating the laws of their country before downloading songs and insists its mother company – MediaServices – is fully licensed to operate under Russian law. ‘MediaServices pays license fees for all materials downloaded from the site subject to the Law of the Russian Federation,’ the site says, citing an agreement with the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society.”
That group, which goes by the acronym ROMS, says it collects and distributes royalties for online use of copyrighted music. ROMS claims that under Russian copyright law, it does not need permission from copyright holders to license the sale of music on the Internet. ‘What can I say – this has to be decided by a court and no court has said this is illegitimate,’ ROMS general director Oleg Nezus told The Associated Press. ‘… Believe me – I’m a lawyer, you have to understand the law as a whole.’ But Igor Pozhitkov of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents Western recording giants such as Universal, Sony and EMI, says Nezus is reading the law selectively,” Nicholson reports.
“According to IFPI’s lawyers, agencies such as ROMS do not need to seek permission from rightholders if they are licensing the broadcasting, performance or transmission of works by cable – but they do if it concerns their sale over the Internet. ‘They (ROMS managers) are using this as a money machine,’ Pozhitkov said. ‘Hopefully they will defend it for a while and then disappear.’ Allofmp3 provides no phone numbers and questions e-mailed to addresses listed on the site went unanswered,” Nicholson reports.
Full article here.
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