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international news _ 11th March 2005

Low Cost MP3 Site Allowed to Operate

A Russian MP3 download site has been cleared of illegal operation by prosecutors in Moscow this week after a complaint by the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) led investigators in the cities police computer crime department to look into the activities of www.allofmp3.com

The site has been operating for some time now selling the latest releases by artists from all genres of music. Instead of charging per tracks like systems such as itunes does it instead charges for amount of data downloaded with users choosing what quality of file the audio is downloaded in ranging from 64kps to CD quality. A nice idea you may think but the labels don't seem to think so and who can blame them, a loophole in the Russian law states that companies such as allofmp3.com do not have to seek permission from the holders of the copyrighted material they're selling and that the companies only have to pay the labels and artists an unspecified 'nominal sum'

Users charge up their account before being allowed access to the sites massive archive of music with 500mb of data download costing just 5 USD and at 128kps mp3, good enough quality for most listeners that equates to about 8-9 albums.

So how can they do it so cheap? well we all know the cheap distribution costs of the internet but it's really all down to the amount of money the company is paying the artists and labels which not surprisingly when you look at the price, is pretty close to fuck all. Currently Russia has laws protecting unlawful duplication of CDs and DVDs but nothing to cover digital duplication and transmission so when the case was investigated by Russian officials and lawyers they admitted any legal action would probably be unsuccessful.

"We have received no confirmation of any decision and we do not expect it for some time," a spokeswoman for the IFPI said. "However if it is true that the prosecutor has not taken the case this would be very disappointing considering the blatant and large-scale infringement that continues to take place. "If these reports are confirmed we will take the case further."

For now though the site continues to operate offering a quality MP3 delivery system for a fraction of the cost of their competitors providing a remarkably accessible library for music fans but a potential revenue drain for artists and labels.

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