Britons Warned Over AllofMP3 Use

Britons were warned Tuesday by the British trade association BPI that use of AllofMP3.com was illegal, although it did not plan to pursue users of the service when it files suit against the Russian company in British court. The industry claims that the site is not authorized to sell digital music.

"AllofMP3.com is illegal under UK law and it is illegal to download from it," BPI General Counsel Roz Groome said. "We are going to sue AllofMP3.com in the UK courts - we are going to seek a judgment not against the users of the site, but against the site itself."

The music site has disputed those claims, saying it carries the necessary licenses. AllofMP3 has become the second most popular download site in the country behind iTunes with a 14 percent share of the market. Individual tracks on the site sell for as little as four pence (7 cents US), with entire albums retailing for as low as one pound ($1.88 USD).

AllofMP3 claims licenses from Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (ROMS) and the Rightholders Federation for Collective Copyright Management of Works Used Interactively (FAIR). However, the industry has called the ROMS license invalid and said that is would not cover users in foreign countries.

The site went offline in mid-May for "maintenance," leading some to believe it had finally given in to pressure. However, AllofMP3 has since returned.

It was believed at the time that the Russian government may have played a hand in the shutdown. Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to crack down on his country's piracy problems and lack of copyright protections.

Putin is attempting to bring Russia into the World Trade Organization, and support from the United States will be a necessity to make that happen.

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