IFPI's update on the illegality of AllofMP3.com

IFPI's update on the illegality of AllofMP3.com

Summary: In response to the difficulties I've been having getting my $20,000 whole home audio/video setup to play the 99 cent songs I'm purchasing online, several readers wrote to me about a Russian outfit that they thought was legally selling digital music a la carte without wrapping the music in any digital rights management (DRM) envelopes.

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TOPICS: Legal
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In response to the difficulties I've been having getting my $20,000 whole home audio/video setup to play the 99 cent songs I'm purchasing online, several readers wrote to me about a Russian outfit that they thought was legally selling digital music a la carte without wrapping the music in any digital rights management (DRM) envelopes. To legally open most songs purchased through iTunes, you need an Apple-authorized palyer to open the FairPlay DRM envelopes that they come in (for example, an iPod or Apple's iTunes software).  AllofMP3.com has a wide selection of music and when you buy that music, it can be encoded on the fly into just about any format you want (MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, etc.).  But is it really legal?

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),  the International Federation of the Phonograph Industry (IFPI) -- sort of an international version of the RIAA --  has declared AllofMP3.com to be operating in violation of copyright holders rights.  But there isn't a lot of current information on the Web regarding where the IFPI's case against AllofMP3.com.  Today, IFPI spokesperson Adrian Strain sent me an update via e-mail.  Here's what it said:

We submitted a complaint to the most senior Moscow prosecutor in July (this is the third submission) and are awaiting that decision. Allofmp3.com was declared illegal by the court in Germany in May.  The portal to the site in Italy, "allofmp3.it" was shut down by the Italian police in July.  By the way, the Russian Organization for Multimedia & Digital Systems (ROMS) does not have the authority to licence the site and was thrown out of CISAC in October last year for purporting to grant licences it was not entitled to grant.  We have consistently said that the site breaks international copyright laws by its sale and digital distribution of copyrighted music without the consent or authorisation of the rights holders.

The reference to ROMS is important because supporters of AllofMP3.com claim that its working with ROMS to make sure copyright holders are getting compensated for the purchase of a la carte music.  CISAC is the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

So, things aren't looking good for 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?

Topic: Legal

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  • David you would probably be wrong to make that assumption

    >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

    I would do more CYA before suggesting that AllOfMP3.com is possibly legit.

    I have been to Moscow several times because my wife is Russian. The city is full of little kiosks that sell pirated software, music and videos at a fraction of the retail cost. The problem is so bad that it can be difficult to find some place that will sell you legal copies of something because there are very few people in Moscow are concerned about legal copies of foreign merchandise. You can even purchase some DVD's before they show up in the theater. It is unlikely that Russian authorities have any doubt that AllofMP3.com is illegal, it is more likely someone has been paid off and until someone on the other side pays more money to address the issue AllofMP3.com will continue operation.

    This is how business gets done in Russia.
    balsover
    • I didn't say the site was legit

      nor did I say that *I* was convinced/unconvinced when it comes to the sites legality, or illegality. I just said that the Russian Authorities may not yet be convinced. Whatever their thoughts are on the site doesn't mean that they're right. You're explanation (re: payoffs) is plausible. I'd also be careful about using a credit card with a site like this that obviously very far outside of any US jurisdiction.
      dberlind
    • semantics

      I agree that "someone's been paid off" in Russia. But what's the difference in the US when all we do by paying exorbitant prices for DRM'd music to the record labels. The artists rarely see a dime anyway. The only difference I see is in the price and who gets paid off. With our "system" the profits via the RIAA are much larger than what the Russian politicians are getting. So what's the big deal? If Congress would just get a clue and disolve the RIAA, set up a legit accounting process, remove the DRM, and charge .02 per MB, all would be cool and the record industry would have profits 10 fold of what they do now. It's all about the gatekeepers.
      Pearhead
  • Supporting an artist

    If you really want to support an artist, don't bother with the recorded music, as they see very little money from cd sales as far as royalties go. Case in point, David Byrne of the Talking Heads:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2005/03/28/david_byrne_launches.html
    XJ: How do you feel about the fact that some of your fans are downloading your music for free?
    David Byrne: It's a mixed bag. Sure, I would love to have compensation for that. But the argument of record companies standing up for artists rights is such a load of hooey. Most artists see nothing from record sales -- it's not an evil conspiracy, it's just the way the accounting works. That's the way major record labels are set up, from a purely pragmatic point of view. So as far as the artist goes -- who cares? I don't see much money from record sales anway, so I don't really care how people are getting it.



    So if you really want to support an artists, buy a ticket to see them live, or buy some of their authorized merchandise. That way, they'll actually get some money.

    As far as allofmp3.com goes, it points out the failings of DRM. All you need is one copy on the loose, one company in one far-flung country, and all of your DRM is now completely worthless.
    tic swayback
  • Pass the buck

    "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? "

    If such a 'system' were in place for you to directly compensate the artist, would kind of make the RIAA member companies obsolete.

    It would pass all of the RIAA's problems onto the artists though. Maybe the real problem is that music has been made into an 'industry'.
    ibabadur1
    • Is that a typo?

      When you wrote, "It would pass all of the RIAA's problems onto the
      artists though," did you mean to say, "It would pass all of the
      RIAA's profits onto the artists though," because that would surely
      be the result of such a system.
      tic swayback
  • they The site breaks international copyright laws but..

    at least they are not breaking my b@))s with DRM crap. It is not lower prices that make me buy because higher bit rate songs cost close to iTunes and if I wanted to I could take it for free. So hollystupid can look at what I am doing and understand that if I could buy a file without DRM from the hollystupid crowd I would. For other music lovers I like subpop.com because they have free mp3's to download or mp3search.ru is also a great Russian site but the max bit rate is 192 but 10 cents a song is great.
    cyber-shoplifter
    • No such thing

      As "international copyright laws." If that was true, countries which are a few pegs down the evolution-o-meter would never be able to patent anything because first world countries would've beatem them to it.
      voice_of_all_reason
  • Legality of Allofmp3

    Allofmp3.com is, according to Russian law, legal. Here's a [u][url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050307-4675.html]link[/url][/u] to an article about it. Essentially, what the Russian court decided was that Russian copyright law covers physical copies only. Since Allofmp3 didn't provide physical copies, they were not operating in violation of any Russian law.
    Letophoro
    • Wow, if you follow all the links...

      I don't believe everything I read. But this sure paints a picture of a site that isn't going to get shut down anytime soon.
      dberlind
  • It's clear what the problem is...

    IF all information is correct...

    1. People are paying for their music.
    2. Artists are getting their fair compensation.
    3. No one is stealing anything.

    Then that leaves one reason for all hubub.

    The RIAA/Record Companies feel like they aren't getting THEIR fair share (which in thier eyes is probably 99% of it) and that is why they are complaining.

    I agree with those that it's time for artists to be compensated directly. These out-of-date fat-cats have had their day.
    BitTwiddler
    • It's not about money

      ---The RIAA/Record Companies feel like they aren't getting THEIR
      fair share (which in thier eyes is probably 99% of it) and that is why
      they are complaining.---

      No, the problem is that allofmp3 is selling music in a format that
      the RIAA can't exert continuous control over. No DRM means no
      ability to change the terms of the sale later on. And that's really
      scary for them.
      tic swayback
      • Changing the terms of the sale later?

        what is meant by that? I think I know, but I want to hear it from you before I jump to conclusions.
        dberlind
        • It's all about the EULA

          Let's say I bought TiVO two years ago, under licensing terms that
          I could record any show, and save it for as long as I'd like. Due
          to the EULA, TiVO can change the terms of service any time
          they'd like. They recently turned on broadcast flag technology,
          so any network can both block me from recording a particular
          show, or cause my box to delete a recorded show at any time.
          That's not what I paid for.

          Ditto for online music. When I first bought songs from iTunes, I
          could burn them a playlist 10 times, now just 7. I could stream
          the songs from my home computer to my work computer, which
          I can no longer do.

          What's to stop the RIAA from selling me a song, then deciding I
          need to pay them again for every copy I burn, or pay extra if I
          want to have it on two machines, or pay again to load it onto my
          iPod? Absolutely nothing, because, unlike a cd, which I now
          own, I don't own downloaded music, I've only licensed it.

          If allofmp3 sells things in a non-protected format, and that
          catches on and becomes the way consumers expect to purchase
          online music, it takes away the RIAA's ability to change the terms
          in the future.
          tic swayback
  • grammy.ru

    if buying songs from allofmp3 is illegal what about downloading for free from http://www.grammy.ru/index1.php?act=az
    collection is limited, server is slow and quality is rarely better than 128KBits/s, but this is not file sharing with almost inevitable upload and this is not "buying". i guess clicking the link and saving the file is legal, isnt't it ?
    arkady_z
  • from online books to freedom

    MP3 files is not the only content one can find on the Russian and Chinese servers. On-line books in DOC/HTML/PDF format are freely available. the whole story with Google unable to index book stores sounds like a joke when you go to the web sites like http://www.litportal.ru/

    the whole DRM issue is waste of time until US Gov starts to filter IP packets when they cross the border. After all we all participate in import/export operations without paying a cent to our respected federal/state governments.

    It's time for change and the change is coming. China proves on daily basis that the packet filtering is possible. you can't catch 100%, but you can significantly reduce illegal part of the traffic. Compare with coke. You can't stop it, but you can create enough problems to push the price up. And in the US jail time for copyright infringement is comparable with the jail time small street dealer gets.

    If we desire to keep our freedom of exchange of information we have to concentrate the efforts on creating tools spoofing popular protocols like RTP and HTTP, establishing communities WiFi networks interconnected with private backbones and satellite links.

    Promotion part. Rodi project is interesting as it contains both protocol spoofing ability and distributed search. This is the first attempt of it's kind to create fully decentralized search engine on top of the file sharing network. Client index the shared files and is able to execute search of the content in similar way as big guys do.
    arkady_z
  • From someone in the know

    Thanks a lot for an update on this story, David.

    I run an independent record label in the UK. I would like to
    correct a few ignorant comments made on this issue. It is wrong
    to think that all artists get a very small amount from their
    contracts (My label gives 50% to the artist on all sales). This may
    be the case from larger companies, but the small labels suffer
    from piracy too and I personally am very glad the RIAA pursue
    piracy and illegal distribution on my behalf.

    You also can't say to buy an artists concert ticket to make up for
    downloading the tracks on P2P networks, because not all artists,
    especially in my area of music (electronically produced) have the
    capability to do live performances, so their only revenue is from
    sales.

    P2P networks and illegal download website infuriate me. Mostly
    because me and my artists lose out money to these sites, and I
    really do get hurt when I hear one of my artists (who lives in
    Poland) tells me he is having trouble making enough money, and
    I end up feeling like I'm not doing enough to stop the illegal
    downloading.

    So whoever thinks the RIAA are just a money-grabbing
    corporate object that everyone should be disrespectful to them
    and just download music, I consider morons.

    Regards,
    -Luke
    Label Manager, Sential Recordings
    sential.co.uk
    • now what?

      I am a computer user who uses an operating system
      that does not work with DRM's (not one). This is
      largely due to proprietary software manufactures
      actually being the ones DRMing the music.

      If you are losing money, I have a suggestion for
      you. Sell the music on the internet. Forget the
      fancy stuff -- you have to pay the overhead
      anyways. Just sell it as good quality encodings.
      You will loose money from "piracy" (arrrrgh) but
      this is not different from what happens w/ tapes
      and cd's.

      I looked for sites I could download from and I
      found one. From a business standpoint WTF do I
      even need to tell you this. Milk has 30
      shelflife max. Car dealerships are left w/ half
      a lot of the previous years autos. The biggest
      mistake you or the RIAA could make is to think
      that you can write your own rules. Nobody gets
      to do that. Nobody.
      vampares