British Record Industry Sues AllofMP3

A British record industry group has been given the go ahead to sue the popular Russian music download site, however it is unclear if any ruling could be enforced outside of Britain. The British High Court agreed last week to hear the case even though the company is based outside of the country.

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

BPI first revealed that it would be taking AllofMP3 to court last month. While at the time it warned Britons to stop using the site, BPI said it did not plan to sue users but rather the company itself. The music service is the second most popular in the UK behind iTunes with nearly a 14 percent share.

"This is an important step forward in our battle against," BPI general counsel Roz Groome said. "We have maintained all along that this site is illegal and that the operator of the site is breaking UK law by making sound recordings available to UK based customers without the permission of the copyright owners."

"Now we will have the opportunity to demonstrate in the UK courts the illegality of this site," he continued.

Groome also said that the site was misrepresenting itself as a discount legal music service. Individual tracks on the site sell for as little as four pence (7 cents USD), with entire albums retailing for as low as one pound ($1.88 USD). "The reason downloads are cheap, is that neither the artists nor the record companies are being paid," he argued.

While the British music industry may be successful in proving that AllofMP3 is indeed illegal, it's unlikely that any decision in the UK would shut the site down. Russia would be under no obligation to implement the rulings of a foreign court, say experts. However, with president Vladmir Putin's efforts to bring his country into the World Trade Organization, Russia could be pressured to take action.

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