A Russian online service may well have figured out how to do digital music downloads right: make tracks cheap and available in any format customers care to select.
The site, allofmp3.com, was discovered by Sydney Morning Herald reporter Charles Wright who claims to have to have downloaded a DVD's worth of tracks - 968 of them, to be precise, all from big-name artists - for just under $50 (AU$66).
Assuming all the songs were available on, say, Apple's iTunes Music Store, they would have set the fellow back over $958.
The Russian site charges by the megabyte, offering 1MB of downloads for just one cent. You bulk buy download capacity. Add $5 to your account and you can download 500MB worth of music. The site claims to be legal, having licensed its content from the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society - licence number LS-3M-03-79, the site says.
Many of the songs are stored as uncompressed files, and the site will encode each track in your favourite format - MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA and so on - at your preferred bit rate. Hence, presumably, the per-megabyte billing rate - the better the quality of the song, the more expensive it is and vice versa.
It all sounds too good to be true, but Wright says that after using the site for several weeks, no untoward transactions have cropped up on his credit card bill.
As for the broader legality of offering the copyright material for sale, the site claims its licence covers distribution via the Internet, though we note that its Ts&Cs forbids the use of the service "if it is in conflict with legislation of your country". And "all the materials are available solely for personal use and must not be used for further distribution, resale or broadcasting" or, it adds, for "unlawful purposes".
The site continues: "Under the license agreement, MediaServices [the site's parent company] pays licence fees for all the materials subject to the law of the Russian Federation 'On Copyright and Related Rights'."
Caveat emptor indeed... ®
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