Legality of

In this thread:

Alereon posted a link to Yesterday I spent ten bucks and have been downloading a bunch of music since then. I’ve been getting Q7 OGG files and the quality is great in most cases. There’s been some blips here and there, but I wasn’t expecting much for such a low price.

The company is Russian, and apparently they can sell music for a penny a MegaByte over there. Their FAQ claims the following:

I’ve purchased a grip of albums so far, and I’m not even halfway through my ten bucks. Some albums are even available for free.

If anyone understands Russian law enough to explain how it’s legal for them to do that, then that’s cool, but I’m mainly wondering if it is lawful for me, as an American, to be buying this stuff for so cheap.

I’ll just bump this once then let it die.

This site discusses the legality of allofmp3 and features Q&A’s with a couple of the people involved as well as an apparently disinterested Russian lawyer.

Allofmp3 also got a mention in the Washington Post a couple of days ago, but I don’t have a link handy. It was in one of the Tech columns.

I found out about the site from Slashdot several days ago, and I’m very pleased with it so far. Not just because it’s so cheap, but also because I can get songs in formats that’ll work in my car and DVD player.

IANAL, but from what I can tell, it’s as legal as buying a CD in Russia and bringing it home. There were some opposing arguments in the Slashdot thread, though: Some people claim that the copy is effectively being made in the U.S., not in Russia, so the U.S. copyright holders are the ones who need to be paid.

Thanks for the info and link.

A coworker wondered the same thing and asked his friend, a copyright attorney. The answer came back, “if they’ve got an agreement with the RIAA, then it’s OK, if not, it’s illegal. If you choose to use that site, I advise caution.”

I don’t think that site linked to above really has a good deal of info: we found a lot of others that had the same idea, but I don’t think DJ Chemistry is entirely trustworthy.

IANAL but I have read that its not legal to use this service if you live in the US. I have Italian broadband so I think i’m legal. (i happen to be using it right now :slight_smile:

Could you ask your coworker’s friend be a little more specific? Which law makes it so that the RIAA has to approve, instead of the Russian copyright organization (ROMS)? Legally, how is it different from buying a CD in Russia and bringing it home to the U.S.?

This begs the question. If you brought a CD back you would have to check it with customs first of all. Secondly, I don’t think ROMS apply to US Citizens.

AFAIK you only have to pay duty on purchases over a certain amount.

ROMS is a Russian copyright organization, and since Russia is where the songs are stored and copied, I would think it does apply. Every country has their own similar organizations. Are you suggesting that it’s illegal to purchase music in another country?

This article discusses “parallel imports”, and I gather that it’s legal to re-import a particular copy of a work that was exported from the U.S. (…the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.)

It’s not clear whether it’s legal to re-import a copy that was legally made elsewhere, since it wouldn’t be “lawfully made under this title” - but then, neither is a CD by an American artist that’s legally manufactured elsewhere.

When an artist creates or records a song they have a right to distribute it or not distribute it as they see fit. Anyone who wants a copy of it has to enter into a deal with them to acquire the right to own, play or resale a copy of the song. It matters not a whit if you are “buying” the song from someone from Russia or Neptune if they didn’t negotiate a deal with the artist either directly or through an intermediary such as the record company etc… then you are stealing. Radio stations even have to pay ASCAP or BMI to play a song on the radio so that the artist will be rewarded for his work.

Since you are stealing their work product you are a thief and if you were to copy enough songs you could even be a felon. I would suggest that you buy your music from a legitimate source. It’s hard enough to make it in the music industry without having the fruit of your labor stolen. As to your comparison to buying a cd overseas, it would depend on if the cd was legally made (ie the artist agreed to its production and compensation was negotiated) or not.

It’s not surprising the Russians would allow this… for decades they had an entire economy built on the theft of their citizen’s labor… why would they have any compunction about stealing from us?



Seeing how this is GQ, cite? Preferably treaties and other international law. Or was I a thief long before I had even heard of Napster when I bought a Red Hot Chili Peppers CD in Germany and then brought it back into the US? And I would like a better answer than “because I say so” as to why ROMS isn’t qualified.

That copyright laws are different from country to country causes problems, but it isn’t that uncommon and certainly not specific to Russia. e.g. Many European silent films are in the public domain (and dirt cheap) in the US but still copyrighted in Europe. I wouldn’t call this stealing either.
Of course importing these copies into countries where the copyright is still valid is a different matter altogether.

I’m afraid you don’t understand how the site works. They pay the Russian copyright organization ROMS, and ROMS pays the artists.

Exactly. The copies are legally made according to Russian law, and the artists are compensated just as they’re compensated for CDs and radio play.

The royalty rates are lower in Russia than in the U.S., but that isn’t unusual - there are plenty of products that sell for different prices in different countries, from DVDs to automobiles. Many American companies take advantage of that by “buying” labor in countries where it’s cheaper.

Voluble: <all of Slashdot> Copyright violations ARE NOT AND NEVER WILL BE STEALING!!! </all of Shashdot> :smiley:

Oh, and one of the interesting things about that site that I read about on Slashdot is that they distribute the Beatles and Michael Jackson, two artists who have FORBIDDEN their music to be distributed online. One of the quoted sites (either the MP3 site itself or the lawyer’s) says there’s some loophole or law that allows them to do that, but that makes me suspicious.

I wish we had a copyright attorney on the boards :slight_smile:

Sounds like compulsory licensing.

This article explains how the site is unlicenced. Their current licence from ROMS isn’t worth diddley as ROMS agreement with the Russian Authors’ Organisation was terminated last year.

But a loophole in Russian law exists that they are currently exploiting, and Russia isn’t in a rush to close it.

We did. He wouldn’t elaborate, we figured because 1) he’s not getting paid for figuring out this admitted morass and 2) on the off chance that he says, “probably not” and my coworker spends $20 to download several gigs of music, he doesn’t want any liability. I think the reason he didn’t come out and say, “no” was that he is a lawyer.

I can’t speak for the copyright issues, but my coworker still checks out the site, dreaming about downloading stuff.

It’s been my experience that buying CDs overseas is significantly more expensive (even when converted back to dollars) than buying them in the US. .mp3s, of course, are another story. If only emusic went back to their old money-losing ways.