Russian pirate music site to reopen

By @ibtimes on

Russian music download site www.allofmp3.com has said it will resume business soon, after a Moscow court ruled its operation is in accordance with Russian law.

No music is currently on sale, but a statement on the Web site says business will begin shortly, with enhanced payment procedures and a larger selection of music.

The statement was dated August 31, but did not make clear whether that was when the site would resume business.

Earlier this month the Cheryomushki Court in Moscow ruled that Denis Kvasov, allofmp3's former head, was not guilty of intellectual property theft, and had not violated Russian copyright laws.

Neither Kvasov nor a representative from allofmp3's parent company, Media Services, could be reached for comment.

The U.S. Commerce Department in 2006 called allofmp3 the world's highest-volume online seller of pirated music, and made its closure a key point in bilateral trade negotiations for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization.

The site was closed in early July ahead of a summit between the Russian and American presidents, though Internet visitors were directed to a similar Web site where allofmp3 credit could be used to purchase music.

Allofmp3 sold digitally encoded music across a wide range of artists and genres at prices significantly lower than Apple's popular iTunes or the newly legalized version of Napster.

The Russian site also paid no music industry royalties, saying it was in compliance with Russian law by instead paying 15 percent of its profit to a non-commercial partnership that traffics in licensing and payment for digital media.

We pay royalties to those who sign up with us and ask for them. But none of the majors, among them I mean labels like EMI and Universal, want their money, said Oleg Nezus of the Russian Organization for Multimedia and Digital Systems.

I've been sending them letters since November of 2005, stating there's a dividend. The labels don't respond.

Kvasov and allofmp3 were being sued by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) on behalf of media companies EMI group, NBC Universal and Time Warner Inc. for more than one trillion dollars.

From a Russian law point of view, these sites aren't legal because they go through pseudo-official licensing agencies and don't have direct agreements with copyright holders, said Igor Pozhitkin, regional representative of the IFPI.

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