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RIAA Members Sue Allofmp3.com Over Infringement 323

Posted by Zonk
from the long-time-coming dept.
fair_n_hite_451 writes "To the surprise of no one, several members of the RIAA have filed suit against MediaServices, the operators of Allofmp3.com. The suit was filed for Wednesday, primarily by Arista Records LLC, Warner Bros. Records Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and UMG Recordings. The language of the litigation was very confrontational; The companies claim the site sells millions of songs without paying them 'a dime'. 'The defendant's entire business ... amounts to nothing more than a massive infringement of plaintiffs' exclusive rights under the Copyright Act and New York law.' AllofMp3 has always maintained that a Russian licensing group makes their business legitimate, while the RIAA here claims the organization has no authority to make such a deal."
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RIAA Members Sue Allofmp3.com Over Infringement

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  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @03:41PM (#17328308) Homepage Journal
    Check the organization that allofmp3.com claims has given them the right to do what they are doing. If the organization is legitimate, and has doucmented everything correctly, then the RIAA hasn't a leg to stand on.

    If the organization is not legitimate or doesn't have the proper paperwork, the RIAA wins.

    Instead of litigating this to death, just show the damn paperwork and prove your point.
  • by Bright Apollo (988736) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @03:42PM (#17328326) Journal
    ... because AllofMP3 does what Napster and Rhapsody and iTunes cannot: offer a comprehensive music catalog at reasonable rates. To wit: if you really like jazz, this is the only place to find nontrivial Art (or Chet!) Baker, Charlie Parker, Buddy Rich, Charles Mingus, or Dave Brubeck.

    Is it illegal according to US law? Sure. Do I care? No. This is the modern equivalent of civil disobedience. Call it corporate disobedience: the ad infinitum extensions of copyright protection for works of long-dead artists, as a benefit to corporate parents, says the balance of power is most assuredly in the hands of the sociopathic corporate citizenry and not the voting public. The weapons I have against Big Business are economic, and this is just the first of many conflicts to come, all along the same lines.

    Just mull it over. Corporate disobedience might be the only option now.

    -BA

  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @03:43PM (#17328334) Journal
    So....shouldn't RIAA being suing the licensing organization, instead? Oh, right, the American philosophy is to file a suit shotgun style and see how many people to whom you can get it to stick.
  • by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @03:44PM (#17328374) Journal
    My subject says it all.

    Why is the RIAA trying to sue someone in another country. The US has no jurisdiction.

    Does the site have a presence in the US? Well? If it doesn't then they can get bent. Now they can go after all the people who paid the site to download songs, but not the site in Russia.

    Please America, don't try to bring your horrible legal system to the rest of the world. We don't want it.

  • by Gospodin (547743) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @03:46PM (#17328400)

    In other words, between the Hollywood mafia and the Russian mafia?

  • Maybe I misheard.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChowRiit (939581) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @03:59PM (#17328614)
    Now this is, admittedly, hearsay, and I've not gone to look for collaboration:

    What I'd heard is that allofmp3 PAYS royalties, but the American firms refuse them, as they're "not enough". So when they accuse them of not paying a dime, it's because they won't accept the payments, more than anything else... Can anyone confirm/deny this?
  • by The_Spud (632894) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:01PM (#17328644)
    ... because AllofMP3 does what Napster and Rhapsody and iTunes cannot: offer a comprehensive music catalog at reasonable rates
    And the reason they can offer such 'reasonable' rates is that they are not paying the copyright holder for the rights. I fail to see how giving money to the Russian Maffia is sticking it to the man or Corporate disobedience. You seem to be very proud that you paid money for pirated music that you could have got from filesharing networks for free with the exact same legality.
  • by rajafarian (49150) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:04PM (#17328694)
    My ruble is on the Russuan mafia.

    My nickel is on the *AA mafia because we have a government that will do ANYTHING for corporations.
  • by rovingeyes (575063) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:04PM (#17328704)
    Corporate disobedience might be the only option now

    If it already is not a crime in America, just wait, it'll soon be

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:07PM (#17328740)
    Yeah, and if he gets sued by the RIAA, he'll be the first one to cry foul.

    If he wants to be "Civil Disobdient", he should try to download his music with his real name and write a letter to the RIAA saying "Come and get me!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:08PM (#17328754)
    The only change I would like to see done is to make plantiffs pay all court costs/legal fees if the defendant was proven to be non guilty in a civil matter. That would fix so many problems.


    Except that basically disenfranchises the poor who could never sue the rich again for fear that they would lose the case. It would also allow the rich to get even better legal counsel for the same amount of money, since they would have to pay said counsel much less often.
  • by NiceGeek (126629) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:08PM (#17328756)
    Actually they do pay the money to ROMS - all the RIAA has to do is prove ownership and ROMS will hand them the cash. The RIAA would rather sue it appears.
  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:09PM (#17328760)
    Reasonable rates by whose definitions? Yours? I'd like a new Corvette for $10,000 - I think that's reasonable. That doesn't mean that I should be able to justify buying a stolen one for ten grand.

    Listen, I don't like the RIAA, either, but THEY get to decide how much they want to sell their product for, and your (moral) choices are "Do I pay this?" or "Do I not pay this?". "Do I pay 1/5th the amount to someone who gives nothing back to anyone who made an investment into this music" is not a valid moral option. Until more artists start selling their own stuff directly, this is going to be the way it is, and you can justify your actions any way you want, but that still doesn't make them right.
  • by m0rph3us0 (549631) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:12PM (#17328804)
    Copyright is artificial scarcity and thus economic manipulation by the gov't for the promotion of one sector over another. (Think min wage laws, rent control, farm subsidies, taxes for various industries) Ironically, the Russian government does not interfere with the free market in this sector as much as other nations. It isn't "pirated" music in the same way that going to Amsterdam to smoke pot isn't a violation FDA rules on restricted drugs. What they are doing is importing music that was copied in a region with lower production costs. The RIAA calls it piracy because the Russian government values other industries more than music companies.
  • Importation Laws? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:14PM (#17328858)
    If I understood the AllofMP3.com situation correctly, they are paying the Russian equivalent of the RIAA licensing and royalty fees for the songs they sell, under some obscure loophole of Russian law that allows them to classify their website alongside radio stations and use the much cheaper fees for broadcast licenses. If this is true, then they are violating no Russian law.

    But, I also thought that it is illegal for people to import into the United States products that are illegal here, even if said products are legal in the originating country (like bringing weed back from Amsterdam with you... they won't let it in the country, and you'll probably be arrested for possession). If that's the case, then wouldn't the US customers of AllofMP3.com be in violation of these importation laws by buying the songs in Russia (where it's legal) and then importing them to the United States (where it's illegal)? Why would the RIAA not use this vector for attack on AllofMP3, and bring down Capone on tax evasion?
  • by shark72 (702619) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:26PM (#17329022)

    "(Russian Organization for Multimedia and Digital Systems a.k.a. similar to the RIAA in Russia)."

    Not really. A much closer analogy would be our BMI or ASCAP. Allofmp3 is working their magic by paying the licensing rate for broadcasts. Here in the US, it is BMI and ASCAP who collect money for broadcast licensing. BMI and ASCAP represent artists and are unaffiliated with the RIAA.

    FWIW, despite the fact that ASCAP and BMI are run by and for artists, they are often just as hated by Slashdotters as is the RIAA; particularly when it makes the news that they are suing a business owner for unlicensed public performance. It seems that around here we love and respect the artists, except when they get a little too uppity about being paid.

  • by FreezerJam (138643) <smith@nosPAm.vex.net> on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:34PM (#17329170)
    "... THEY get to decide how much they want to sell their product for..."

    Not always, and not always even in the U.S.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statutory_license [wikipedia.org]

    Similarly, in Canada I can fill a CD with music copied from other CDs because the levy (C$0.21 per CD, built in to the price) goes to a copyright collective. More to the point -- if it's music on a CD, the owner CAN'T legally prevent me from making that copy. This is true even if I don't own the CD; I can borrow the original from a friend, make my copy, and return it.

    There are many places under copyright strictures where the copyright holder doesn't get all the say they want or think they have.
  • by Xebikr (591462) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:44PM (#17329316)

    Reasonable rates by whose definitions?
    How about reasonable compared to cost/effort needed to duplicate?

    BTW, any metaphors comparing made-up, fictional, so-called intellectual property to real, defendable, actual property will fail. Every time.
  • Buy used CDs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:45PM (#17329338)
    I don't like the RIAA much, so I try to avoid buying new CDs as much as I can (I believe I have only purchased one brand-new CD this year, from Target). Rather than settle for what iTunes Store offers (or doesn't offer as the case may be), I just purchase all my CDs used from the Amazon marketplace. I'm buying used CDs so I'm not supporting the RIAA (and not pirating at the same time), and I've never paid more than $10 for a CD I've wanted, including shipping... which makes the tracks less than $1/song. I just rip it into iTunes in AAC format and throw the CD onto my shelf for storage if I need it at a later time.

    Seems like a simple solution to me... no pirating and music in any format I want.
  • by computational super (740265) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:51PM (#17329434)
    It isn't "pirated" music in the same way that going to Amsterdam to smoke pot isn't a violation FDA rules on restricted drugs.

    Actually, (getting completely off topic now), I seem to recall (although I'm too lazy to try to find a link online) that you can actually be arrested for violating US law outside the country once you return. I think it's mostly used against people who visit Thailand to partake in certain "services" which are very very illegal here, but I would assume the same precedent could be extended to people who visit Amsterdam to smoke pot, too.

  • by cirby (2599) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:54PM (#17329476)
    Good luck getting your bank to handle transactions with a company that loses that case in a US court.

    If VISA and MasterCard and AmEx pay anything to AllOfMP3, they suddenly get to look down the barrel of a really expensive lawsuit.

    Ditto for PayPal and the rest.

    When AOMP3 loses this one (and they will), a huge chunk of their revenue stream goes away, and not just in the US. Anyone, anywhere, using a major financial institution to pay for those songs will be shutting down, fast.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:58PM (#17329536) Homepage
    I hope you at least see how wrong that is.
  • by EzInKy (115248) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:13PM (#17329776)

    Yeah, and if he gets sued by the RIAA, he'll be the first one to cry foul.

    If he wants to be "Civil Disobdient", he should try to download his music with his real name and write a letter to the RIAA saying "Come and get me!"


    Just as those who drank during prohibition wanted to hide their activity, those who share music today want to hide theirs. Civil obedience or not, the result is the same...an ignorant law gets ignored.
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xeno-cat (147219) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:13PM (#17329778) Homepage
    Your example is like me mail ordering an ounce from Amsterdam and the US government busting the guy in Amsterdam.

    -peace
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:16PM (#17329836)
    From what I understand what they are doing in Russia is legal. It obeys Russian copyright law. Now by US law if I buy a CD in Russia and then bring it back to the US I am legally permitted to do so provided I do it for personal use and not to resell it. That is in fact what happens. You get a place on their server and then download what you own onto your own computer for personal use. What is happening is actually quite legal.

    The RIAA hates this because it allows US customers to in effect pay much lower royalties and is determined to stop it. They are used to getting their way. The congress passed DMCA for them and other parties and has consistently passed more and more legislation widening intellectual property rights. The US patent office now grants crazy patents (like one click shopping) and even let Disney extend their copyright of Mickey mouse.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono_Copyright_ Term_Extension_Act [wikipedia.org]

    There was a story today on slashdot showing how patents in drugs end up suppressing innovation due to abuse to patent law.
    http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/06/12/21/0530228.shtml [slashdot.org]

    When we create intellectual property we create something that is not obvious. We take away the right of some people to disseminate, display and use certain information and make them pay other for the right to do so. Whenever we extend it we take more from everyone else. So when Congress adds on another 50 years of copyright (or Trademark) they are actually stealing from you. Did they pay you for it? They may have eminent domain power but no-one paid you when they took property from you and gave it to the copyright holder.

    Given that the massive extensions in intellectual property no longer yield the promised positive results, perhaps it is time for the community to take back what was previously theirs. I am not advocating an end to intellectual property but rather sensible limitations.

    Eg
    1. Copyright would last for 30 years. That's it. No more. After 30 years its public domain. That would include text, movies, audio, video...you name it.
    2. No shenanigans with selling music. Ie you can't sell music that only works on an ipod and cant be transferred to another machine if ipods aren't around any more.
    3. Only real patents are allowed. It becomes much easier to throw out patents. Eg no one click shopping and if someone else comes up with the same idea independently then it's really not patentable.
    4. No patents of genes or parts of the human body.
    5. No more draconian punishments of 5 or 10 or 15 years in jail for breaking IP law. Its not rape or murder or assault. Its theft and should be viewed in perspective. Ie max prison term of 1 year.
    6. Extending fair use to making personal backup copies.
    7. No laws against breaking encryption. Those laws are so Orwellian.
    8. Rigourous enforcement of antitrust laws against big media companies with loss of IP protection if they break them. IE if you are Microsoft and you violate them then you lose your IP on windows ect.
    9. No awarding money from sales of MP3 players or blank CDs to media companies. IF they get money from them because of piracy they cant then also so users when they catch them. That is double dipping
    10. IF you want a piece of the public airwaves - eg you're a TV station ect then we the public are going to charge you for that privilege and that means we can record whatever we want off those public airwaves for free (for personal use.)
    11. No extreme IP laws where you are scared of drawing a picture of someone because even if its your picture it might be their likeness ect. Basically keep IP as a concept LIMITED.
    12. Since IP laws are supposedly for the good of the community then we let educational intuitions have a lot more freedom in using material in the course of teaching.

    None of this changes the fact that using allofmp3.com is actually quite legal.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:36PM (#17330122)
    Why is the RIAA trying to sue someone in another country.


    Because the RIAA thinks their legal rights are being violated.

    The US has no jurisdiction.


    The US, as do most soveriegn nations, exercises jurisdiction over violations of its laws wherever in the universe they may occur. It may, by its own law, restrict the territorial applicability of its laws, and, of course, successful litigants may have trouble executing judgements against foreign actors, but that's a different issue.

    Anyhow, Americans didn't start this, we're just copying the British [canada.com] (not the last paragraph of the article.)
  • by IflyRC (956454) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:47PM (#17330322)
    Actually, the loss of money is due to the fact there is no need to purchase the product. I know its confusing but if you think *really* hard you'll see the relationship here. The consumer removes the need to buy the product by copying product illegally. The illegally copied files are then given out to 3 friends through some method of delivery also reducing the need for purchasing the product. So, 4 lost sales due to 1 act of illegally copying.

    Now you could argue you wouldn't have bought it any way and the only reason you have it is because it was free. I honestly think that most artists would prefer that that you not buy instead of listening to a free copy.
  • by SQFreak (844876) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:49PM (#17330364)

    Last time I checked, AllOfMP3.com only claimed to be legal inside Russia, and outside of Russia it was the buyer's responsibility to determine legality of the purchase. Which, of course, no one paid any attention to. Therefore, the response from VISA and MasterCard seems proper.


    Actually, it wouldn't, at least to me. VISA and MasterCard aren't just US companies; they're international alliances. So taking the action of yanking privileges for a service that's legal in Russia just because it's illegal in the United States (supposedly; there's still no court decision on that) would deny customers the opportunity to use their legally-obtained card to purchase legal goods in countries where the service is legal. Suppose Saudi Arabia demands that, because pornography is illegal in Saudi Arabia, nobody be allowed to purchase pornography using their VISA or MasterCard. VISA and MasterCard have to not give the opportunity to process their cards to pornography merchants in Saudi Arabia because they're conducting an illegal activity there, but they do not need to take away that permission from US pornography merchants, because pornography is legal in the US. Allofmp3 is currently legal in Russia. I can't see how an organization can say to Russians that they can't use their card to purchase legal goods. MasterCard is currently a non-profit org, at least in the US. It's hard to justify that action as a non-profit.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:55PM (#17330456)
    allofmp3 pays royalties. The RIAA will receive royalties from the organization that allofmp3 pays if they ask. They refuse to ask because they do not like the compulsory licensing laws in Russia. To ask for the money will imply consent, so they sue the law abiding citizens (allofmp3) because they do not like the Russian laws. There is nothing wrong with compulsory licensing. There is compulsory licensing in the US as well, but the terms are favorable to the RIAA so they accept it and take their money when it is paid. So the problem isn't that they object to how things are handled. They object to the level of payment they receive. And they are suing a lawfully operating company because of a complaint about a government's actions.

    Regardless of what one things about anything else they do, suing a company that is not in violation of any law because of annoyance over a government's policies is just wrong.
  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:14PM (#17330726) Homepage
    Because Apple is an incredibly wealthy corporation which will probably never be called to account and you are just a consumer who can easily be threatened with expensive legal action.
  • by madcow_bg (969477) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:18PM (#17330770)
    > Getting sued for P2P only costs a screenshot of an IP address. Getting sued for buying from allofmp3.com likely requires probably cause and a subpoena of financial transaction records.

    Even better, the prosecution has to proove that you bought them, and knew that was illegal! I mean, it is not that easy to be sued for buying something illegaly, without proving you did it on purpose.
  • by phaggood (690955) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:33PM (#17330952) Homepage
    > What I never understood is why anybody would use this service. I mean you can find high quality songs in multiple formats and of questionable legality for free on p2p.

    Hypothetically, maybe you already have a pretty large collection of iTunes-purchased songs, then your ipod breaks, and you have replace it, then all your purchased songs don't play on the new iPod, then you spend hours on the phone with Apple trying to get retarded iTunes to work, and you get tired of their crap and DRM in general so you figure you can get a pre-paid Visa and simply pay AllofMp3 a "burning" fee to get all the stuff YOU ALREADY OWN in a DRM-free format so you can start playing your tunes again, w/o wasting anymore HOURS using some p2p site trying to find all your songs.

    Hypothetically, of course.
  • by ben there... (946946) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:40PM (#17331044) Journal
    The article also grossly exaggerates the savings buying from allofmp3.com:
    AllofMP3 typically charges under $1 for an entire album and just cents per track. By contrast, an album at Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store and other licensed services typically costs about $10 and a song 99 cents.

    What they don't mention is that the price is variable based on bandwidth, and the $1/album figure is basically impossible to find on the site.

    I just randomly checked Taylor Hicks' album [allofmp3.com] (not a fan of his). It is 12 tracks long, so it's slightly below average length. Default 192 kbps is $1.81. The cheapest you can get it for is 128 kbps for $1.33. CD-equivalent lossless is $7.15. WAV, the format of an actual CD, is $11.23.

    All of those figures are "typically" slightly more for an average ~14 track album. Everyone I've heard of buying songs from allofmp3.com usually buys ~320 kbps or lossless, for 3-6 times as much as the article states is the "typical" cost.

    For the longest albums, lossless ends up costing more than the CD. But allofmp3.com gives the customer the chance to decide how much they're willing to spend in relation to the quality they want. Meanwhile iTunes charges more than the fraction of an album that a particular track is for a fixed 128 kbps version. Only when buying whole albums at once is iTunes a better deal than CD, albeit at reduced quality.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @07:11PM (#17331376)

    It's a very convenient service for the price.
    The price is a reasonable price and closer to what I feel a "fair" price for songs.
    The service is excellent, very quick.

    Legally- you are ONLY downloading (none of that p2p uploading while you download stuff) so you are not infringing copyright.

    It has a great selection compared to p2p.

    I can SELECT the quality level I want and the price I want to pay from a 3meg mp3 to a 27 meg wav file.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @07:22PM (#17331482)
    allofmp3 has better selection than bit torrent.

    bit torrent randomly has or doesn't have a song on a given day.

    allofmp3 I'm only downloading- not uploading so I have greatly reduced legal risk.

    there is no chance that allofmp3 product is being sent to me by riaa or a riaa stooge for the purpose of entrapping me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 21, 2006 @07:49PM (#17331788)
    >Actually, the loss of money is due to the fact there is no need to purchase the product.

    You cannot lose that which you did not possess or have care of. This is a fundamental concept of losing things. Arguments to the contrary will result in links to the dictionary (just a warning, don't take it personally).

    Now, we have to find out, did the RIAA at any point have the money for something which they no longer have for some reason or another?

    For anyone to lose money, one of the following has to occurr:

      - You have to be in control of the money supply somehow. When anyone loses money (say by purposely destroying it) the mint or the reserve loses it, as it is in their care ultimately.
      - You have to have had the money in your hands. Even a bank robber loses money if the police nab them and return it to the bank.
      - You have to have had a guarantee (preferably recognized by law) that you would have money from someone. A person can lose money if they have money in a guaranteed investment and the one invested in absconds on the interest.

    Those are all solid ways one could lose money that would be recognized as such even by a court (although that doesn't mean they would give you the money back, as the bank robber had no rights to that which he possessed). A court would work with the person rightfully possessing the money for them to recover it.

    And, as all of these cases have either actual immediate posession of money or guarantees, none of them work for your example.

    There's another less concreate way to lose money:

      - You have to have had an expectation that someone else would give you money they do not owe you. For example, a person buying a bar of gold to try to turn a profit by reselling it at a future date loses money if the value of gold is lower than when they purchased it at their preferred selling date.

    In this case, if the person bought $10,000 in gold at date A from the federal reserve, but sold it for $9,000 at date B to the federal reserve, they have lost $1,000. However, if the profiteer were to sue the federal reserve, a judge would not order the federal reserve to pay him $1,000, as there was no guarantee by the federal reserve that they would buy back the gold for $10,000+. At no point was the federal reserve either legally, or even ethically bound to offer a $10,000+ buy-back price.

    In common parlance, one would say to the profiteer "Them's the breaks" and if the profiteer were unhappy, a kind person might reccomend they stick to goods and services that have guaranteed returns, such as secured investments and (gasp!) working for someone else.

    This is the kind of "money loss" your example demonstrates, and money loss due to profiteering is a debate that neither ethics, law, or even philosophy supports. In fact, most people consider a profiteer that complains about "money loss" a "whiny bastard" that needs to "get a real job".

    And so should the RIAA. Either that or they should find a secure investment. Might I suggest a 1 - 3% profit mutual fund over $0.05 circles of plastic marked up 50,000%?
  • by trentblase (717954) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @09:21PM (#17332552)
    Dispute the charge. That'll get their attention.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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