Russia Agrees to Shut Down AllofMP3.com at U.S. Request – or did it?

Text of Agreement
Visa and Mastercard halting service to AllofMP3 effectively shut it down. In the face of the credit card departures, AllofMP3.com said it would move to an advertising supported model. Now Russia and the U.S. appear to have reached an agreement to shut it down – or did they?  

ars technica and others are reporting that AllofMP3 says it will not be shut down. Instead it says Russia agreed to certain copyright reforms that AllofMP3.com says it will comply with. Even if this is true, AllofMP3 could never be what it was. If the reported agreement is implemented by Russia, any new AllofMP3.com would be as close to its current incarnation as today's Napster is to its original form.

As of the time of this post, AllofMP3.com was still up and running.

Dale's Comment: This is a sad day of sorts. While the legality of AllofMP3 was always murky, its success (second in world-wide sales only to iTunes) was a clear example of the fact that consumers are willing to pay a fair price for music from a site that services the users needs, if they are given fair rights to use the music they purchase. In the case of AllofMP3.com the user could chose the format they wished to purchase and there were no restrictions on the use they could make of the music.  I look forward to the day the major labels learn this lesson and start offering DRM-free music for sale to honest users under fair terms.

Sources: TechCrunch | CNet | ars technica | Inquirer | The Register | ABC News | ComputerWorld | PC Magazine | MOSNews | MP3.com | Techwhack | Techdirt | ZDNet | Macworld | DailyTech

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Visa and Mastercard Stop Servicing AllofMP3.com

Both Visa and Mastercard have announced that it has stopped accepting transactions from AllofMP3.com, the Moscow-based, deep-discount, comprehensive music download service. It is the second most-used music download site on the Internet. It is popular because users can purchases songs how they want, in whatever format and bitrate they want without use-limiting DRM.

Mastercard justified this action by saying they do not "tolerate the use of its network for illegal activity." AllofMP3's notes that what it does is not illegal in Russia – and so far the Russian courts have upheld this view.

"The company believes the action taken by the world’s largest payment processors is arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory because Visa and MasterCard lack the authority to adjudicate the legality of AllofMP3’s activities and its determination that the company’s activities were illegal is patently erroneous and without legal merit. AllofMP3 has not been found by any court in the world to be in violation of any law."

"It is evident that Visa and MasterCard made the decision on factors other than legal grounds since the decision was not based on an adjudicated verdict by any court in the Russian Federation or, for that matter, anywhere in the world. To disqualify AllofMP3 based on a payment processing company’s whim is irresponsible and sets a bad precedence."

AllofMP3's immediate response was to start giving away music free to all-comers. It is considering talking legal action against the credit card companies. Some reports have said that it is considering moving to an all-advertising business model.

Dale's Comment: Despite the many actions of governments and courts around the globe, this is clearly the first real nail in AllofMP3.com's coffin. The major labels should establish a virtually identical service and charge up to ten times the price AllofMP3 charges and honest users like me would flock to their service. AllofMP3.com fills a critical need for honest music purchasers – a service where songs can be purchased where the user is not restricted as to the player she wishes to play the music on nor is she limited to the number and type of devices and services she can play her music on.

Sources: CNet | Information Week | Geek.com | Computer Business Review | Business Week | Warez | PC Pro | PC Magazine | Techwhack | Slyck | MP3.com | ars technica 1 | ars technica 2 | Forbes | afterdawn| T3

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Michael Geist Concludes 30 Days of DRM

Version of 30 Days of DRM
Canadian Copyright reform is in the air. In anticipation of possible legislative action this fall, Michael Geist’s 30 day series of daily articles “30 Days of DRM” has come to an end. While he ultimately argues, as I do, that it would be preferable NOT to adopt
DMCAlike anti-circumvention legislation in Canada, the Conservative government may succumb to the copyright lobby. These articles, which are quite good, propose limitations that should be included in any such Canadian DMCA-like legislation to fairly protect Canadian consumers and to guard against the multitude of problems created by the U.S.’s enactment of anti-circumvention measures in the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

30 Days of DRM:
Day 1 – Linking Copyright and Anti-Circumvention (Markets)
Day 2 – Region Coding (Markets)
Day 3 – Oversite of DRM Misuse (Markets)
Day 4 – DRM Misuse Sanctions (Markets)
Day 5 – DRM Labeling and Consumer Awareness (Public Protection)
Day 6 – Interoperability (Public Protection and Markets)
Day 7 – DRM-Free Library Deposits (Public Protection)
Day 8 – Privacy (Circumvention Rights)
Day 9 – Reverse Engineering (Circumvention Rights)
Day 10 – Security Research(Circumvention Rights)
Day 11 – Involuntary Installation of Software (Circumvention Rights)
Day 12 – Research and Private Study (Circumvention Rights)
Day 13 – Criticism, Review and News Reporting (Circumvention Rights)
Day 14 – Private Copying (Circumvention Rights)
Day 15 – Artistic Access (Circumvention Rights)
Day 16 – System Repair (Circumvention Rights)
Day 17 – Broken or Obsolete Technology (Circumvention Rights)
Day 18 – Backup Copies of Software (Circumvention Rights)
Day 19 – Backup Copies of Digital Consumer Products (Circumvention Rights)
Day 20 – Public Domain (Circumvention Rights)
Day 21 – Print Disabilities Circumvention Rights)
Day 22 – Libraries (Circumvention Rights)
Day 23 – Education Institutions (Circumvention Rights)
Day 24 – Time Shifting (Circumvention Rights)
Day 25 – Statutory Obligations (Circumvention Rights)
Day 26 – Investigation of Concealed Code (Circumvention Rights)
Day 27 – Government Works (DRM Policy)
Day 28 – Review of New Circumvention Rights (Circumvention Rights)
Day 29 – No Ban on Circumvention Devices (Foundation Issue)
Day 30 – Prohibition on Contractual Circumvention of Rights (Foundation Issue)
30 Things You Can Do

Source: Michael Geist’s 30 Days of DRM Page

Consumer Electronic Association Runs Pro-Consumer Ads on Capital Hill

Full-Sized Ad Copy
The Consumer Electronics Association has created a new ad, that will run in two Capitol Hill publications today. The add argues that it is time the content industry learns the difference between real pirates and average consumers and that consumers of lawfully acquired music should be able to use it however they wish.

Sources: EFF | Related CEA Fair Use Press Releases | Engadget

The Information Policy Action Committee is Formed to Lobby Congress for Pro-Technology Reform

Ren Bucholz (EFF), David Alpert (Google) and Mark Stoller, have banded together to form a new Political Action Committee called the Information Policy Action Committee (IPAC) to lobby Congress for “pro-Geek”, “pro-technology” reform. Because the EFF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, it can’t get involved in any electoral politics. The RIAA & MPAA are not barred by law from lobbying Congress. The founders of IPAC realized that “geeks need to be engaged in electoral politics in a direct way” as a tool to counter the multi-million-dollar lobbying efforts of the industry heavyweights. From the IPAC website:

We believe that technological innovation and individual creativity are vital to the future of this country. We believe that a prosperous and democratic society depends on freedom for all individuals to pursue scientific invention and artistic expression. Unfortunately, new, more draconian copyright and patent laws threaten to stifle these freedoms and restrict public participation in science, art, and political discourse.

Sources: IPAC  |  TWiT – see episode 49A  |  TWiT Podcast 49A: Interview with IPAC Founder Ren Bucholz

Related Story: IPAC Send Senators iPods: IPAC  |  Content Added to Senators’ iPods  |  Engadget  |  ars technica  |  Boign Boing

The Sad Reality of Copyright Policy in Canada

Michael Geist chronicles the broadcast lobby’s funding of Canadian federal candidates and urges party leaders to take the following pledge:

No Member of Parliament who has accepted financial contributions or other benefits from (i) a copyright lobby group, (ii) its corporate members, or (iii) senior executives as well as (iv) a copyright collective shall serve as Minister of Canadian Heritage or as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, nor sit on any legislative committee (parliamentary or standing committees) conducting hearings or deliberations on copyright matters.

Source: Michael Geist

RIAA’s Next Big Target: Russia

Certain regions remain outside the RIAA's and IFPI's sphere of influence. One of those is Russia. A number of music download services operate out of that country, including the well-known AllofMP3.com. None of them have the blessing of the IFPI or any of the labels to offer music for sale, yet they have been given the green light to stay in business by Russian law enforcement. Now the RIAA is attempting to gain the support of the US government in its fight against the Russian music download services.

Source: ars technica

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