AllofMP3.com is a small Russian company which has become the international poster child for attacks on independent music download sites.
By itself, it probably doesn't represent much of a genuine threat to the labels or studios. But if it's allowed to survive and prosper, its existence would certainly encourage other entrepreneurs to adopt the same marketing approach - DRM-free downloads at reasonable prices - which would result in serious competition for the corporate cartels which, until the Net became universally adopted, had been able to control virtually everything ordinary people saw or heard.
Competition is good: it promotes free choice. But neither 'choice' nor 'competition' are words found in cartel lexicons. So a massive, and ongoing, multi-million-dollar campaign has been mounted against AllofMP3.com by the cartels, with the record labels to the fore.
Leading it on behalf of the labels and other vested interests is the US administration, which has brought its full weight down on a handful of people in another country who dare to compete with Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, with the major movie studios and software houses lurking darkly in the background.
In rich irony, only Warner Music can be said to be truly American. And even it's run by Canadian. The other three members of the Big 4 music cartel are EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, based in Britain, France, Japan and Germany, respectively.
In other words, the US government is generously spending money provided by American tax payers to help four foreign companies maintain an iron grip on a market whose openness would benefit American artists as much, if not more, than artist in other countries.
Nor does it appear anyone in either the United States Trade Representative Office, which is behind much of the US-mounted pressure on AllofMP3.com, nor music industry 'trade' organizations, such as the IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry), have made any effort to talk directly with AllofMP3.com executives to find a way to reach an accord.
But if you want to see how high they go, take a look at this: according to Reuters, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said:
"I have a hard time imagining Russia becoming a member of the WTO and having a Web site like that [AllofMP3.com] up and running that is so clearly a violation of everyone's intellectual property rights"
Of course that what is legal and what is not all depends on the standing legislation, and AllOfMP3 are under Russian laws.
While DCC's Russell McOrmond (DCC is Digital Copyright Canada, Canada's RIAA) says that
While AllOfMP3.com may be perfectly legal for Russian customers, it is not legal for them to sell to foreign customers. Copyright and licensing need to be analysed domestically, and you can't say that what is legal in Russia allows you to do something in Canada or the USA
Any lawyer will tell you that that's not true: AllOfMP3 is legal on Russia, and their license lets them sell worldwide (according to their exportation laws). The only way you can make illegal for Canadian or American people to buy stuff from AllOfMP3 is for those countries to actively forbid those transactions. In that case, their citizens are forbidden to buy from AllOfMP3, but still AllOfMP3 have the right to sell their music to Americans or Canadians.
Anyway, nothing of that really matters, since Russia will change their laws today, to ilegalize AllOfMP3.
I thought of changing this blog's layout to a black theme for a day, or talking about sweet, nice and cool alternative online stores, like Amie Street. But that wouldn't really be an article that would piss RIAA off, if they were to read this, right?
So, I've searched and came out with a better music service to talk about: MP3 City. First of all, MP3 City sells mp3 files, no .wmv's and such. The files are all DRM-free, and untagged. Like in AllOfMP3, here you can find lot's of kinds of music, from underground stuff until major label's artists. Damn, you can already buy there Marilyn Manson's "Eat Me, Drink Me", an album that is only to be released in four days, or Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full", also to be released next week. And you know what? $1.76 is the price for Marilyn Manson's album, $2.08 for Paul McCartney's. No, I'm not talking about one track, I talking about the whole album, in DRM-free MP3 files encoded at 320kbps.
As cool as AllOfMP3, right? Cooler in fact, since MP3 City is also legal with Author's distribution rights granted by State Enterprise "Ukrainian Agency on Copyright and Related Rights" (UACRR), and, as far as I know, Ukrain isn't (still) being pressed to change their laws.
Eat this, suckers!