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Welcome to US Citizens: We're Likely Legal
November 28, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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The music industry is adamant about the illegality of has taken a contrary position, reiterating that its operations are completely legal, at least in the Russian Federation. Somewhere in between are the consumers, not sure which position is correct.

Various representatives of the music industry, especially the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) have been trying for the better part of the last three years to knock offline. This effort has meet with mixed results.

Legal enforcement against the site's previous owner had to be dropped due to Russia's antiquated copyright laws (there's no provision regarding digital distribution.) There was some success recently by the IFPI, which managed to convince Master Card and Visa to suspend transactions between customers and AllofMP3. Additionally, a Danish court has forced ISP Tele2 to block its customers from accessing the Russian music store.

Yet these pin prick assaults have failed to deter the purchase of music from, nor has it deterred's customers. In retaliation for the legal assault, has initiated a public relations blitz - with some success.

AllofMP3 has managed to bring the issue of music pricing, DRM and consumer rights into the mainstream media - something P2P related news has spotty success with. Because of its stunning popularity, as it's equal to iTunes in some markets, many consumers have a vested interest in's survival. Music sold via AllofMP3 is significantly less expensive than iTunes, has no portability issues, and is DRM free.

One of AllofMP3's most significant customer bases, the US, is especially important to this Russian music store. This has likely resulted in today's press release, which is focused directly at the American citizen.

"U.S. Consumers are Likely Legally Purchasing Music From"

Additionally, in an unusually long FAQ, goes through a painstakingly complex set of copyright laws which it feels grants US citizens the legal OK to download music.

“Mitch Bainwol (the chairman and CEO of RIAA) calling AllofMP3 a pirate site is preposterous,” said Vadim Mamotin, deputy general of AllofMP3. “It is evident that Bainwol is deliberately trying to mischaracterize the site or considers those that pay fees to licensing societies to be thieves.”

The core of AllofMP3's argument is that it indeed a legal service in the Russian Federation. Because of this, the company feels there is a stipulation in US copyright law (under an exportation clause) that allows citizens to download music from a foreign site, providing it is not for distribution or profit.

"Although to our knowledge there is no direct precedent on the legality of accessing a service like ours from the US (i.e., using a legal music download service located outside of the US), we, however, do believe that there are at least several statutes, each of which, should allow users to access our service in the US; such as 17 U.S.C. §§ 602(a) (the “Importation for Private Use Exception”); 1008, 1001 (the “iPod Exception”); 109 (the “First-Sale Doctrine/Anti-‘Double-Dip’ Exception”); 107, 117 (the “Fair-Use/Backup Exception”); among others."

Whether AllofMP3's or the music industry's claims are indeed fact remain uncertain. What is certain, is that consumers continue to go about their business while both sides of the copyright debate squabble over a future that already seems determined.

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