Back when I first started complaining about how a 99 cent song (purchased at the iTunes Music Store) couldn't be played back on my $20,000 whole-home entertainment system (a shining example of the problem with DRM technology), a bunch of people suggested that I could legally buy music that would work from a Russian-based source of unprotected MP3 files called AllofMP3.com. It seemed too good to be true. Then, after I did a little homework, I found my instincts to be right. A lot of people outside of Russia were trying to get AllofMP3.com shut down. That was more than a year ago, and, to this day, AllofMP3.com is still up and running and probably getting more business than ever now that it's in the crosshairs of the US government. That's right. A music pirate in Russia is causing such a stir in the international copyright community that America's top trade official is saying that Russia shouldn't be allowed as member of the all-exclusive WTO club unless it shuts the site down. According to Reuters:
Russia should shut down a pirate music Web site that is robbing U.S. recording companies of sales if it wants to become a member of the World Trade Organization, the top U.S. trade official said on Wednesday.
"I have a hard time imagining Russia becoming a member of the WTO and having a Web site like that up and running that is so clearly a violation of everyone's intellectual property rights," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters after a speech to a services industry organization.
I never did end up buying music from AllofMP3.com. I respect copyrights and have lived in suffrage. Even though I'd gladly drop a few hundred bucks for music a year, I don't buy songs online since I can't get them to work where I need them to without breaking the law. So, I just don't bother buying music at all (not a good net result if you're in the music business).
I also never got an answer to the question I asked in my last posting about AllofMP3.com:
But here’s a question: Let’s say I get a hold of a DRM-free version of some song from a site like AllofMP3.com that’s still up and running (the fact that it’s not shut down yet leads me to believe that the Russian authorities are not yet convinced of the site’s illegality). If I wanted to make sure the copyright holders got whatever royalties were due to them, how would I do that? In other words, where do I send the check?
The record business doesn't want to answer that question and I'm sure you can figure out why. But what about the artists?