Russian 5c MP3 site 'unlicensed'

But protected by legal loopholes


Analysis For some time now we have been tracking the progress of a Russian MP3 site called Allofmp3.com. To recap, Allofmp3 is one of many Russian internet sites that are openly offering MP3 files from a central server. Other popular sites include club.mp3search.ru and www.mp3spy.ru. For either $14.95 a month (capped at 1000 tracks per month) or for individual tracks at one cent per megabyte, it's fantastically cheap.

The site is clearly targeting English-speaking users as well as Russians with its vast range of British and US repertoire. All the tracks are encoded on the fly at the bit rate of your choice and when you download the Allofmp3 Explorer program, you can set whole albums to download while you wait. All in all, it's just as convenient as iTunes - plus it's compatible with Linux, Mac and PC - but obviously rather cheaper and with less gaps in the contemporary catalogue. So the obvious assumption would be that it's completely illegal.

The answer is far from clear. The site is not licensed by any labels. However, currently there is an exemption under existing Russian copyright legislation (Article 39 for the aficionados) allowing phonograms to be performed publicly without the authorisation of the copyright owner for broadcasting and cable transmission. The Internet could be deemed to fall under this exemption. A similar argument can be applied to copies in the cache memory of computers.

So as IFPI Russia's legal adviser, Vladimir Dragunov, concedes: "Because of these loopholes we don't have much chance of succeeding if we attack these companies who are using music files on the Internet under current Russian laws."

As for the authors/publishers' rights, matters are more complex. Whilst the current law makes it clear that there is a need for licences to cover the use of musical works on the Internet in Russia, a fallout between the Russian Authors' Organisation (RAO) and the Russian Organisation for Multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS), which had been licensing Russian digital music services on its behalf, means that Allofmp3 is no longer licensed despite its claims to the contrary.

RAO terminated its agreement with ROMS at the end of 2003, complaining that it had received very little money and no accounting details from the four-year-old body which RAO had itself helped to found. "They told us they had 200 licences but they would not even tell us who they were licensing," RAO's Vadim Dunin told MusicAlly.

So now RAO is preparing to license sites such as allofmp3 itself. The trouble for Russian rights owners is keeping track of Internet piracy when physical piracy is so much of a problem. With piracy levels of 66 per cent and a pirate CD market worth an estimated $312 million, according to figures from the IFPI, it's not surprising that a representative from Russia's labels association, NFPP, told MusicAlly that "the internet just isn't a priority for us now."

New copyright legislation is in the offing but it's a painfully slow process. The first reading of the new legislation took place back in October 2001 and this month saw another possible date for the second reading missed by the new Duma, the Russian parliament. But even the labels are not assuming that the new laws are a done deal.

"We have very great resistance to this new law in Russia," concedes IFPI's Dragunov. ®

Copyright © 2004, MusicAlly

Related stories

Russian 'legal' music site offers songs for 5c
RIAA sues Spanish music site
EU probes music licensing
MS hawks vision of DRM future
Sony opens US music download store


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022