Tuesday, May 27, 2008

RIAA surrenders to Russian cheap MP3s, for now

The US recording industry trade group sued the popular Russian site AllofMP3 and eventually forced it to shut down.

Beatles at low prices AllofMP3.com used old and obscure provisions in Russian law to pay drastically lower royalties to the mainly foreign record companies that owned the songs. Instead of around a dollar a song from most online retailers, people could pay around a dollar an album or small change per song for higher quality!

The record companies and the Bush administration went after it vigorously. They used the Russian government and international credit card companies as well as the courts. Eventually the site sales were shut down, despite repeated rulings from the courts it was not breaking the law.

Yesterday the RIAA announced it has dropped the lawsuit as AllofMP3 is not offering music for sale.

But who really won?

Why should the Russian owners bother to sell through AllofMP3? They had moved to MP3Sparks.com and offer almost the same great site design and cheap prices. Several other Russian sites also offer the same deals.

So, if you object to sharing music with torrent sites and risking the legal wrath of RIAA, you can just head over the Internet tubes to Russia again. Check out Songboom for ratings of some sites. Another interesting international alternative is to avoid the major labels and use eMusic which offers songs for about 33 cents, just not the stuff you hear on most radio stations.

The common question people ask me is how safe are the Russian sites? Banks now offer excellent Internet fraud prevention guarantees although I know of no one who was ever ripped off by the Russian MP3 Mafia. That is more than most artists can say about their recording companies.

X-posted at my LiveJournal.

Music Video: "Back in the USSR"

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