Looking at the world of media: from music to RIA.

To download or not to download?

May 18th, 2006 Posted in Distribution, General Media / Stuff, Music

Do you know what the number 2 digital music store is? If you look at current market reports they say that eMusic owns 9% and therefore is second only to iTunes 80% market share. The interesting thing about these reports is that they never mention AllOfMP3. The reason AllOfMP3 never comes up in these reports, is that according to most analysts, the IFPI and RIAA, AllOfMP3 is an illegal download site and their sale numbers are not valid. The question that keeps coming up about AllOfMP3 is: Is AllOfMP3 really illegal?

A little background… AllOfMP3 is a website based in Russia that provides a huge (like iTunes huge) selection of downloadable music that can be provided in a selection of custom encodings (OGG, MP3, FLAC) that the end-user can choose from.

Now, here is where it gets really interesting, customers do not pay per song, they pay per megabyte. When you buy into AllOfMP3 you buy bandwidth and then you can download as many songs as you can with that bandwidth you purchased. Current reports claim that the average song rate would come to about $0.08 a song. This is the reason AllOfMP3 is so popular, you just can’t beat that price.

When most people find AllOfMP3, they think to themselves that it’s too good to be true and there has to be a catch. Is it a fake site? Is it just a scam to get my credit card number? People tried it out, it worked and they loved it. The problem is there is a catch and here is where the company’s legal ability to exist becomes a little grey.

According to AllOfMP3, they are a legal service because Russian copyright law states that since AllOfMP3 is not distributing physical materials, they are providing a service that is considered a musical performance. Because it is a performance, AllOfMP3 just has to pay the Russian Organization for Multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS) for every performance/transaction. ROMS is the Russian equivalent of ASCAP/BMI and ROMS tracks the performances and then pays the artists according to the number of plays (more or less).

Now, the IFPI, labels, artists, and RIAA really, really disagree with this. In the US and the EU, copyright law states that to sell copyrighted material you need to have a license from the 3 owners (songwriter, recording owner, and artist). AllOfMP3 does not have a license to sell this music and this is where the debate kicks in.

Which law applies? The WTO is putting pressure on Russia to comply with, what is now considered by many to be, standard copyright law and to close down AllOfMP3. AllOfMP3 is saying they are following their countries laws and it is really on the consumers end to follow their countries laws. What this means, is that if you live in the US or the EU you are breaking the law by using AllOfMP3. Interesting.

So, as of today AllOfMP3 is semi-down. The site was 100% down a few days ago and has slowly been coming back online. People are debating if the site is finally being closed or are they just having server problems, as AllOfMP3 claims.

Either way, this is a really interesting topic because it gets deep into the issues we have playing in a global market and how the internet is accelerating these challenges as countries’ borders are removed in this virtual environment.

Sources: Museekster.com – “AllOfMP3 FAQ” Museekster.com – “AllOfMP3 Interview” Wikipedia – Article on AllOfMP3.com moskalyuk.com – “AllofMP3.com escapes criminal lawsuit, for now” Reurters UK – “WTO entry must be in Russia’s interest – Putin”

  1. One Response to “To download or not to download?”

  2. By Nerdit on May 18, 2006

    I’ve been using aom for a year and now I say – I’m tired of all the problems around it. They do not process my payments, I can’t download anything and I can’t withdraw my money back. I’ve found a new site, beleived to be the main aom competitor nowdays – http://www.mp3sale.ru They provide the same services at the same prices (even cheaper). So I hope aom will give me my money back so I add them to my mp3sale’s balance

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