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Russian Music Site Offering Legal Songs By The MB 614

Posted by timothy
from the for-small-versions-of-legal dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting on a Russian Music site that is offering legal digital music by the MB. The site apparently has a license from the Russian Music authorities to legally distribute songs for a fraction of the price of what is being offered by iTunes and others. The report from SMH is here. Amazingly, the site offers files in any format and encoding you choose and rips it on the fly. Notifications by email follow when the songs are ready for download. Sounds a little to good to be true :)"
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Russian Music Site Offering Legal Songs By The MB

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  • by ILL Robinson (228744) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:35AM (#8994788)
    ...music has now become shovelware!
  • by Hakubi_Washu (594267) <robert DOT kosten AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:37AM (#8994800) Homepage
    Why not put PayPal inbetween? That way you can't be charged... (I use PayPal exclusively, because I don't have a creditcard, they're not that common over here in germany :-)
  • Re:Allofmp3.com (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:39AM (#8994812)
    "They're licenced with the Russian equivalent of the RIAA, so I don't see where the problem is."

    giving money to an equivalent of the RIAA?
  • Re:Allofmp3.com (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:42AM (#8994833)
    If you import legally purchased marijuana you will be in violation of drug possession laws. But can you name a law you would violate when importing a legally purchased piece of music? Private individuals import lots of music all the time with no legal problems.
  • by 53cur!ty (588713) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:46AM (#8994850) Homepage
    It's good to see the Russian Mob...I mean Music Industry meeting the needs of the consumers!

    Two observations:

    1st - Do any of you see the hypocrisy in buying from the Russian site? Are you the same people complaining about the outsourcing of American jobs/economy?

    2nd - Has it occurred to anyone that the music industry is now mob run? Look at the tactics they employ compared to past mob practices. And no the mob doesn't kill everyone since then they don't pay, only when they need to make an example or you steal directly from them. However, the recent pay or we'll sue definitely follow their intimidation tactics. The mob goes where the money is; right now, that's media (music and movies).

    Just my two-cents, think about it!

    Let us streamline your world [roncadesign.com]

  • Re:Not legal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cred (754775) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:50AM (#8994867) Journal
    I'm no expert on the matter but if I buy a CD from Russia that's $15 cheaper than in my country, do I have to pay again to the local RIAA just because I got it cheaper? Does it make the record illegal if I got it cheaper from Russia? No. If I buy legal online music from Russia instead say.. iTunes, does it make the songs illegal? I doubt. Why would it be? The only reason what I really can come up is RIAA way of thinking "it's never too expensive".
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:57AM (#8994887)
    There's got to be rip-on-the-fly functionality in there too, as well as encode-on-the-fly, because in no way could any sane operation pre-rip every known CD.

    Their hard disk storage is probably configured as an intermediate cache (well that's how I'd do it anyway), with cache-load requests coming up on the monitors of a bunch of unskilled temp employees who have the task of loading newly requested CDs into the racks of CDROM drives, ejecting the LRU CD as instructed.

    And even this group of people probably forms a cache which feeds its misses as requests to the poor sods who have to run out into the Russian weather to chase down obscure CDs in the shops. :-)
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:09AM (#8994944) Homepage
    It's probably great for Russians. But for Americans at least, the site is illegal.

    Our laws prohibit most unauthorized distribution and reproduction of copyrighted works in the US per 17 USC 106. The party that can authorize it is the US copyright holder -- this is prone to be a different entity than rights holders abroad.

    While some degree of importation is allowed per 602 and 109, this doesn't qualify. A copy isn't merely being brought into the country, but rather due to the way computers work (see the infamous MAI v. Peak case, which while wrong is commonly relied upon), a new copy is being made on the downloader's end that did not originate in Russia, and thus wasn't imported as 602 requires. (Though what it was copied _from_ did -- it's the difference betweeen a CD that can be brought from place to place, and making a tape of what you hear on the phone)

    Even the ability to legally import unauthorizedly is somewhat limited; the idea is that if we have copyright laws domestically, to allow people to do an end run around it by operating in a country with less or no copyright, then importing works here en masse would result in things being, well, fucked up, basically. This site basically demonstrates how such a thing might happen.

    The Russians are probably fine -- if they're careful, RIAA won't be able to shut them down. OTOH, Americans using the service could get into significant trouble if they're caught.

    All that having been said, I'd like to see the law changed to better suit the desires of the public, but for now there are problems for this.
  • Album is Wanted?? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by HarryCallahan (673707) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:10AM (#8994949)
    Some of the albums have a category of "Wanted" i.e. they don't currently have it but would like someone to give it so them I presume. Like this page here has one http://catalog.allofmp3.com/mcatalog.shtml?group=4 564&albref=14

    Someone else above also said that if you upload an album you get 2 free as credit, or something like that. So this would mean they are receiving uploads from people and then onselling the music. This is definately not legal in the west.

    Seems to just be a case of Russia saying screw the west we'll do business our way in our country. And good on them.
  • Re:Allofmp3.com (Score:5, Interesting)

    by etymxris (121288) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:12AM (#8994960)
    I don't complain of either personally. Outsourcing is fine for both consumers and businesses in my book.

    As has been said many times before, not all of slashdot speaks with one voice. When you see those topics with 800-2000 comments, it's because there is significant disagreement. If everyone agreed, there wouldn't be much to say.

    You are right that there can be a certain hypocricy in saying that consumers should be able to get cheap wares from Russian markets, yet that our jobs should not be outsourced there. However, the charitable thing to do is to assume that no one holds both those positions until seeing someone that does. What makes you think otherwise?
  • by paulhar (652995) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:14AM (#8994968)
    Why is this any different to physically flying to Russia, buying a CD off the shelf for a much lower price than you pay in the US, then flying back with it?

    I.e. if you are legally buying something in another country (as allofmp3 claim) and you are shipping it to your computer (via an internet, just as software etc is distributed), then how can this suddenly become magically illegal?
  • by Grakun (706100) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:18AM (#8994994)
    Easynews is $9.95 for 6 gigabytes. And just as legal. What makes newsgroups any more legal than IRC, FTP, AOL, BT, or P2P?
  • Moral Legal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Morgaine (4316) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:39AM (#8995082)
    Several people here have already addressed the issue of legality in their countries by pointing out that parallel imports are legal for them. Unfortunately, this would seem to leave everyone else doing something illegal under their local law, if that were the end of the story. But it is not.

    What is "legal" is not necesssarily right or moral, and the actions of the RIAA and its cohorts definitely places them in the wrong. It is not the same world today as it was back in the days of vinyl, yet the cartels have steadfastly refused to reflect the virtual elimination of replication and distribution costs for digital music in their pricing. Instead of adapting to a new world, they corrupt the lawmakers to provide them with bully boys to enforce their claimed right to continued profits in perpetuity.

    Well, sorry, the new generation isn't having any of that rubbish. The founding fathers left a land of repression for the freedom of a new world. Now their offspring are turning to Russia for their freedom. If somebody at home isn't getting the message, they should.
  • by drudd (43032) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:52AM (#8995143)
    My wife and I have used it for several months now, and have been very happy (although lately the servers seem to be overloaded too often).

    The funny thing is, after we put the first amount on our credit card, Citibank called up to make sure that the charge was legit. Then when we put more money on a few months later, they called again! I guess Citibank just can't believe people might purchase stuff from a Russian company :)

    Doug
  • Re:Not legal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:57AM (#8995177)
    So how does that apply then to downloading infringing mp3s from users outside the UK?
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:19AM (#8995356) Journal
    You might be correct... but I know there was a lot of flap over stores importing/exporting overseas version of CDs and whatnot. This article from BBC News [bbc.co.uk] shows what i'm talking about.
    CD-Wow! had been accused of violating UK copyright law by importing cheaper CDs from outside Europe to the UK.

    "The record industry claimed that CD Wow! was obtaining sound recordings from outside Europe and selling them to UK and Irish consumers."

    The BPI is also investigating online retailer Amazon to see whether it is importing CDs from outside Europe.

    "If we find a net retailer is importing music from outside Europe, then they are infringing copyright law," a spokesman said.

    And you're right, normally this kind of market segmentation wouldn't work. But pharmaceuticals, the RIAA/MPAA & various other multinational corps can effectively set their own rules b/c they run the only game in town.
  • Re:Allofmp3.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adrianbaugh (696007) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:22AM (#8995383) Homepage Journal
    It's beautiful. The price pressure on goods leads to outsourcing of jobs, which leads to pressure on wages in order to compete, which leads to... One vicious circle later and the average wage in the US will be no higher than the average wage in urban China. But it won't matter, because everything will be so cheap.
  • Fight! Fight! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Sfing_ter (99478) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:23AM (#8995386) Homepage Journal
    This is gonna be great, Lawyers vs. RIAA/MPAA, feces vs. feces, lumpy pustule vs seething carbuncle.

    This will cause the EU feces to hit the rotary oscilator. Would it not be of the greatest irony, that Russia winds up being the place we regain our freedom from opression?
  • Re:Allofmp3.com (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nelsonal (549144) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:24AM (#8995396) Journal
    I don't think it's all regulations and import duties. In the computing world exchange rates moved very rapidly and prices did not adjust as quickly at rates moved. The move was big enough (almost 50% in two years) that Germans were importing (paying the import and transit costs) and saving 10-20% on new Mercedes-Benzes from the US. Exchange rates are hedged by most companies so they don't regularly adjust prices for exchange rate fluctuations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:45AM (#8995577)
    i know at least 2 people who have been screwed by paypal (had over $10K of transactions, they started an "investigation" for no good reason, froze their money for months and wouldn't let them have it)
  • Re:seems legal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by golgotha007 (62687) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:18AM (#8995900)
    the RIAA and MPAA has zero jurisdiction here in Russia. why do you think piracy is as bad here as in the Asian countries? i would not be surprised if allofmp3.com license is made up and bogus, as it is not needed.

    every street corner has CD shops loaded with the latest games, apps and music.

    they also package MP3 CD's which is loaded with albums, lyrics and CD art. each CD is 65 roubles, which is about $2

    very strange to see this story; i am currently working on getting credit card functionality for my mp3 distribution engine. my site is at least a month before seeing production, but the site will be 100 percent in english, has a beyond amazing collection (just under a terrabyte) and offers each song for a penny.

    the thing slowing me down is getting a merchant account here in Russia that will allow me to do credit card transfers.
  • by nanojath (265940) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:24AM (#8995965) Homepage Journal
    I wouldn't presume to argue the legality of this for people outside Russia. I have no idea. I'll continue my policy of trying not to purchase or access new copies of copyrighted materials unless I'm confident they are sold with the approval of the copyright owner or their agent. I would be curious to know if copyright owners are getting anything back from these sales.


    The primary interest in this to me is how it points out the growing gap between the major content conglomerates' business models and the reality of what they're producing. We all know the prices on CDs are ridiculously high compared to their production costs - one or two dollars versus ten or twenty, very very roughly. With online it has become even more ridiculous - pennies to deliver the data versus a dollar or more to buy a song. Yet Apple tells us it can't make money.


    The lesson I wish was being learned here is that we have entered the age where a recording contract with a major label is like a huge freaking albatross around your neck. The reason Apple can't make money on iTunes is because between the cumbersome necessity of verification and the enormous skim the labels are demanding there's nothing left over - bringing the ridiculous situation where they can't make money selling data transfers of say 3-10 MB for a buck.


    The labels are indeed to blame but I personally don't want to rectify the situation by finding a way to get their stuff for free or extra cheap. I'd much rather see artists realize that they don't need the labels anymore, they just need some technical help and better organized consumers. Just as anyone can now go and pay someone a pretty nominal amount to burn CDs in bulk with whatever data they want on them, anyone can now go and pay an even more nominal fee per bit to have someone serve whatever data they want on demand. Screw Russia, go hit http://www.bitpass.com and check the music offerings - songs for pennies. That's a real revolution, my friends.

  • Re:Allofmp3.com (Score:5, Interesting)

    by akadruid (606405) <{slashdot} {at} {thedruid.co.uk}> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:27AM (#8996006) Homepage
    In continental Europe and the USA, the idea of importing a car to save money is a seen as an oddity. In the UK, entire industries are built around the simple fact that it is cheaper to re-import vehicles constructed in UK from countries such as the Netherlands. As an illustration, see Jamjar [jamjar.com], the UK's largest independent car retailer, selling UK spec models sourced from Europe.

    This is nothing to do with minor exchange rate differences either. Standard retail prices of cars are regularly 20-60% higher in the UK.

    As geograpical price-fixing goes, 'Ripoff Britain' has USA and continental Europe beaten hands-down.
  • Re:Not legal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#8996201) Journal
    However, if you copy it and get a second record, assuming the copying isn't legal (per 17 USC 107 or 1008 or whatever) then you CAN'T resell the second record under the first sale provision (109).

    Problem one, you assume the copying isn't legal. The fact is, there's the equivalent of two copying going on. Labels are selling music to allofmp3 and allofmp3 is selling songs to you. The slight difference is more than likely allofmp3 isn't actually getting source copies from the label each time but has some contract. So, allofmp3 has to follow its contract for which it might need for you to sign a contract to remove itself from liability for your illegal actions. And then the legality is placed squarely on the user.

    Likewise, if Perry sold his rights in the UK to his close friend Sid Vicious, and Sid was the one making copies in the UK, you couldn't -- as a matter of first sale -- import those copies into the US. There is a good reason for that.

    If Perry sells his rights in the UK to Sid, then you can obviously import any copies Sid makes for sale because they're copyrighted. Or do you think the RIAA can't sell US music in the UK because it got hold of the copyright for songs from the authors?

    Imagine that there was a small country that bordered the US and could easily ship stuff here. We'll call it Moosylvania. Further, imagine that Moosylvania has no copyright laws at all. This means it's legal for the locals to copy anything they want. If they could freely export it to the US, they'd just do an end run around our copyright laws, and everyone would buy cheap, unauthorized Moosylvanian copies, basically leaving the US copyright holders screwed.

    Except Russia has copyright law. And Russia and the US have almost certaintly set up a treaty to deal with copyright law (the whole point of the Berne convention and its cousins, btw, was to unify copyright law enough so that copyright could extend around the globe..and that means importing copyrighted works from Russia should be perfectly legal in itself).

    So, for first sale to apply, the copyright holder who made the copy has to be the US copyright holder. If that's not so, even though the copy was made legally over there, it won't qualify, because it would not have been made legally if it had been made over here.

    That really doesn't make sense. Of course, it's a good question on whether it's even possible for someone in the US to hand over their copyright in just one country. And if it *was* possible, then it obviously means you can import the song because it's still under copyright (just not a local one). If copyright can extend from the US to the UK, I'm not sure why it can't extend back again.

    When you download from this site, there is a master copy in Russia. At the end of the process, there is a master copy in Russia AND a copy on your hard drive. That's two copies, and that already indicates that it's not an import. And the copyright holder has the exclusive right to reproduce his work in the US per 106.

    Then how can iTunes do it? Through a contract, of course. And the contract involves making a copy for sale. That copy for sale is paid for before being resold to the consumer. If that weren't true, iTunes wouldn't be paying another company. Or are you saying the contract isn't a valid way of reproducing a work? If that's true, then I hope you don't believe an even less strong legal item called a license (like GPL or the BSD variety) to redistribute works.
  • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:17AM (#8996542) Homepage Journal
    *sigh*

    There are a lot of reasons for this, though most of them may be too mired in "what things actually cost" for you to understand them. Needless to say, a consumer isn't "screwed" because a major label gives a radio station volume pricing any more than a consumer is screwed when he pays $2 for a small jar of a spice, when on the commodities market a pound of it would only cost him $5. There's less work involved with selling a massive volume of something at wholesale, and so it costs dramatically less. I mean, if YOU want to buy three thousand copies of that new Vines album, you can get a price break too. Those are 3000 copies they don't have to market, distribute or display in a storefront.

    Furthermore, radio play is generally considered by labels and artists to be a method of marketing. If they want their songs played more, they needed to decrease the cost to play them. That's why the RIAA lobbied for such cheap radio rates. Their whole goal is to sell you the album; not because they want to SCREW you, but because in a subjective field like that of music sales it's better for the consumer to be the linchpin. That way, the consumer decides what music is made by providing a larger share of the money paid. If it were the other way around, radio stations would have even MORE control over what you hear, and I can't see how that's a good thing.

    Anyhow, the "all the money goes to the store, poor artist" argument is very myopic. In a major label release, the artist gets less of a cut, but gets an upfront budget to make the album, and in theory promotion including guaranteed airplay. In an independent label release, generally the artist gets a bigger cut but has to cover all the costs of production and marketing himself. This means that the major label could be a great deal if the promotion comes through. Consider, for example, The Darkness. Thanks to Atlantic's promotion, wardrobe cash and a seriously goofy video, they've sold over 300,000 records. If they had been an indie with that same sound but no exposure, they'd be hoping for 10-30,000 records. The 10x difference in sales more than makes up for the 2-5x inequity in percentage.

    Selling an album is no different from any other business venture. As a small business, you take more home off each sale if you can use your own cash and labor where possible...but some investments can take you to the next level while draining a bit of your future profits. RIAA is just a VC protecting its investments. If you're going to hate them, hate them for being so BAD at marketing new acts most of the time that a lot of great, fresh acts [pscmusic.com] have no choice but to go indie.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:46AM (#8996888)
    Citibank obviously understand its obligations to its members...
    When I had an acct w/ Wells Fargo, I had to deal with Wells refusing to honour a CC payment at a local Chinese restaraunt, 'cos I had "suspiscous" transactions... After two /hours/ of my life wasted, I was able to talk to a supe who realised that I would take 150 000 USD from my accounts if they didn't honour 28 USD in debit-card charges...
    Thus said, I cancelled all accounts w/ the company, and went to Citibank...
    Citi has /never/ blocked any of my transactions, but has given me the courtesy of calling me whenever a charge is "suspicious."
    In the end, I'd rather get a phone call from a company who is concerned about fraud, than a company which would construe a meal as such..
  • Re:TANSTAAFL. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:51AM (#8996943)
    As an artist/musician myself, I won't *ever* sign with a label. That being said, I know a number of my fellow musicians/friends who *did* sign with a label, and I can safely say they don't give a rip if you buy the music they created for the labels from Russia, Ethiopia, or simply d/l it from a P2P or steal it off the damned shelf at your local record store! Unless your sales put you near the top, as an artist signed with a label, you make next to *nothing* from sales. You actually make *much* more from the damned T-shirt sales at your shows than you do from record sales if you're signed with a label! Have no fear, if you're worried about how much money you're taking out of the mouths of starving artists/musicians by screwing the RIAA/labels don't. You aren't. The RIAA/labels beat you to that decades ago.
  • wealth is leaving US (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SethJohnson (112166) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:00PM (#8997043) Homepage Journal


    Are they relying on cheap Asian labor to build their fast cars and gigantic bungalows?

    In fact, these fatcats are purchasing european-built cars such as Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, TVR, etc. That's a hundred+ grand that leaves the US for good. And the dudes building those bungalows are mexicans who frequently are paid under the table by a subcontractor, so no money is collected by the IRS in the form of income tax. They mail the bulk of their paychecks back home to family in Mexico, which also means little is collected in terms of sales tax. This is why the Bush Administration is trying to legalize so many immigrant laborers. We need them working here, but we also can't afford to lose all that money from govt. coffers. I vehemently oppose Bush being in the White House, but this is an issue that he seems to be coming to grips with even though the rest of his party is against it.
  • Re:VERY LEGAL. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Politburo (640618) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:06PM (#8997811)
    You're not looking at the argument correctly.

    The internet is threatening to destroy the viability of creating entertainment because people like you seem to think that just because it's easy to do something that it should be legal too.

    No. Most people in this thread are saying it should be legal due to the way copyright law and international trade is setup. If these songs are legally obtained and distributed under Russian law, then no law is broken if they are imported into the USA or other countries. It doesn't matter if that's done over the Internet, or if I walk to Russia during the next ice age.

    Word. I'm also pissed off at the FDA for preventing the free flow of untested drugs, and the FBI for restricting the free flow of raw, uncut heroin. And I'm not a big fan of the "State Police" slowing down the free flow of my neighbour's high deifnition TV into my basement.

    You appear to be sarcastic here, but many people consider these legitimate beefs with the government (although I don't quite understand what the last one is supposed to be.. your neighbors TV turned up too loud?). The idea that the government can regulate what we put in our bodies is appalling to many, including myself.
  • ITunes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:00PM (#9002778)
    My question is, how come Apple's ITMs supposedly doesn't make any money.

    These guys sell their product for drastically less, and even offer this online encoding feature, which must take quite a bit more server power.

    Do the liscencing fees cost that much?

    Something doesn't add up here. Either allofmp3.com is losing big time, or Apple is being dishonest about their profits, or the licsences cost at least 90% of the 99c that Apple charges.

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