AllofMP3 Owner 'acquitted of copyright offences'

Markleshark

macrumors 603
Original poster
Aug 15, 2006
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Carlisle, Up Norf!
Surprised this hasn't appeared here, seems pretty big news.

From BBC Website.

A former owner of Russia's music website Allofmp3.com who sold cut-price downloads of Western music has been acquitted of copyright offences.

A court in Moscow ruled that Denis Kvasov and his site had operated within the bounds of Russian law.

The site was attracting millions of customers before it was shut in June - under pressure from US music firms.

The site has also been a thorny issue in US-Russia talks over Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

'Very bad precedent'

Mr Kvasov, head of Mediaservices, which owned the website, was put on trial after EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal music companies pressed for his prosecution.

But District Judge Yekaterina Sharapova on Wednesday threw out the prosecution's case.

"The prosecution did not succeed in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright law," she said.

During the trial, Mr Kvasov successfully argued that he had paid royalties to a local organisation, the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (Roms).

The head of Russia's anti-piracy organisation, Konstantin Zemchenkov, said the court's verdict set a "very bad precedent".

'$1 for album'

The site offered downloads at far lower prices than mainstream businesses like iTunes.

A starting price for a track was as low as about $0.10, while an album was offered for $1.

Mediaservices has always maintained it pays royalties to Roms, but many Western firms do not recognise this organisation and refuse to accept its offers of payments.

As part of protracted negotiations over Russia's entry to the WTO, an agreement in principle was reached regarding website regulation in 2006.

It said: "The United States and Russia agreed on the objective of shutting down websites that permit illegal distribution of music and other copyright works.

"The agreement names the Russian-based website AllofMP3.com as an example of such a website."

Although Allofmp3.com disappeared in June, another Russia-based discount music site opened shortly afterwards.
 

TBi

macrumors 68030
Jul 26, 2005
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Ireland
That Article said:
The head of Russia's anti-piracy organisation, Konstantin Zemchenkov, said the court's verdict set a "very bad precedent".
A bad precedent being not sending someone to prison for not breaking the law (at that time) in his country?

So they wanted to send a guy to prison for not breaking any laws in his country?

I think the bad precedent would be sending him to prison for not breaking his laws.

(Yes i know that in america what he did is highly illegal but we are going by Russian laws here!)
 

j26

macrumors 68000
Mar 30, 2005
1,505
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Paddyland
A bad precedent being not sending someone to prison for not breaking the law (at that time) in his country?

So they wanted to send a guy to prison for not breaking any laws in his country?

I think the bad precedent would be sending him to prison for not breaking his laws.

(Yes i know that in america what he did is highly illegal but we are going by Russian laws here!)
Spot on.
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
14,927
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Texas
The music companies are just pissed because they weren't making nearly as much money from allofmp3 as they were from other resllers. For them it's all about profit, not music.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,180
3,134
The music companies are just pissed because they weren't making nearly as much money from allofmp3 as they were from other resllers. For them it's all about profit, not music.
"Not nearly as much" is not quite correct. Music companies, and more importantly the musicians, made _nothing_ at all. They received not a penny.
 

yg17

macrumors Pentium
Aug 1, 2004
15,000
2,480
St. Louis, MO
"Not nearly as much" is not quite correct. Music companies, and more importantly the musicians, made _nothing_ at all. They received not a penny.
Doesn't matter. This site was legal under Russian law, I don't even think this case should have gotten as far as it did
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
14,927
35
Texas
I agree with you there, but that is why it DID get as far as it did. As far as I'm concerned, the courts did the right thing. He was paying royalties to the Russian company, they either did pay or attemped to pay royalties to the US companies. End of story.
 

raptor96

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2006
146
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RI
"Not nearly as much" is not quite correct. Music companies, and more importantly the musicians, made _nothing_ at all. They received not a penny.
To be fair, 'nothing at all' is a bit dramatic. They were offered royalty payments by Roms but declined them as they don't recognize Roms. Sooo while royalties were paid in adherence to the laws of Russia to a legitimate (in Russia) royalty collection firm, UMG and others didn't receive money because they chose not to. Granted that the money might be less than their royalties elsewhere but it doesn't matter because the distribution scheme was legal under Russian law.
 

weckart

macrumors 601
Nov 7, 2004
4,781
1,686
To be fair to the evil music companies, allofmp3 has been acting disingenuously throughout all of this relying on a loophole in the law. What ROMs has apparently been collecting are the royalties for airplay of said music, which is notably lower than that for the distribution of physically recorded music, but should in theory be paid once for each broadcast.

If I remember rightly, the laws in Russia do not make an adequate distinction between music played on the radio and that which is propagated (ie sold) over the internet. This is the loophole. ROMS has not been collecting the appropriate monies to pass onto the likes of RIAA et al, and these consequently want nothing to do with ROMS as that would me acknowledging the airplay fees as being correct for the sale of music. That would leave the western record companies with virtually nothing.

Consequently, ROMS did not have the authority to license the sale of music from virtually all the non-Russian artists on allofmp3 repertoire. Of course, the key word being sale. Allofmp3 was claiming that each download was a tailored broadcast.

Because the Russian laws are so vague and out-of-date, it was never going to be easy to bring a successful prosecution. Although I have no love for the heavy-handed RIAA, it does not mean that allofmp3, or its mafia backers, were in the right, either.
 

jimN

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2005
934
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London
To be fair, 'nothing at all' is a bit dramatic. They were offered royalty payments by Roms but declined them as they don't recognize Roms. Sooo while royalties were paid in adherence to the laws of Russia to a legitimate (in Russia) royalty collection firm, UMG and others didn't receive money because they chose not to. Granted that the money might be less than their royalties elsewhere but it doesn't matter because the distribution scheme was legal under Russian law.
To accept that the payments would be to legitimise them. There's a reason that Russia is kept out of this World Trade group and it is because it allows such blatantly dubious practises to continue.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,180
3,134
To be fair, 'nothing at all' is a bit dramatic. They were offered royalty payments by Roms but declined them as they don't recognize Roms. Sooo while royalties were paid in adherence to the laws of Russia to a legitimate (in Russia) royalty collection firm, UMG and others didn't receive money because they chose not to. Granted that the money might be less than their royalties elsewhere but it doesn't matter because the distribution scheme was legal under Russian law.
I'll tell you a story about accepting payment.

Several years ago I tried to buy a flat that was going to be repossessed in an auction. The current owner was still living there. (No need to feel sorry for him, he was single, made more money than I did, and hadn't made any payments for years). Obviously I checked with a lawyer first. He told me it would take about six months to get this person out of the flat. And he told me not to accept any money from that person under any circumstances - as soon as I accept money he is a tenant, has the full protection of the law as a tenant and is close to impossible to remove.

Offering payment is very often a poison pill. It doesn't mean the person offering wants to pay, often the payment will put you at a severe disadvantage. Same here.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,180
3,134
Doesn't matter. This site was legal under Russian law, I don't even think this case should have gotten as far as it did
Did I say otherwise? I said that the comment "received almost no money" was wrong. I can also say that doing the exact same thing in the USA or west european countries would get you into jail. Yes, they found a loophole in the law. No, they didn't pay artists one penny.
 

LethalWolfe

macrumors G3
Jan 11, 2002
9,372
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Los Angeles
The music companies are just pissed because they weren't making nearly as much money from allofmp3 as they were from other resllers. For them it's all about profit, not music.
The majors may be greedy but they invest hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in acts that, just going by the numbers, will never generate a profit for the label. The only thing allofmp3 does is hijack all the money and hard work it took the label and the band to make an album, sell it for almost pure profit while only offering a "poison pill" (to take gnasher729's term) that's a fraction of what the label and the band should get from music sales. I fail to see how allofmp3 is isn't worse than the major labels that so many people love to hate. Allofmp3 has all of the bad traits of a major music label w/o any of the useful qualities.

Unfortunately I agree w/the ruling that no Russian law was broken, but only because there is a giant, gaping loophole in Russian law that needs to be closed.


Lethal
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Doesn't matter. This site was legal under Russian law, I don't even think this case should have gotten as far as it did
I think the prototype is right in terms of jurisprudence. Russian law worked in a very exploitable way. International political pressure was exerted via WTO to change this. The Russians agree and appear to have shut down the sites in good faith.

Not too bad... the ethics of the (obsolete) Russian law itself are really a separate issue. I mean, almost every country has provisions to suspend patents on medicines, for instance, under conditions they label as emergent. That might be qualitatively different, but clearly the general principle that ownership rights are not irrevocable or immutable carries over to intellectual property.