A Russian Web site that lets visitors download albums for less than US$1 is a smash hit with music fans -- but not with US trade and music industry officials.
The site, they allege, amounts to a haven for music pirates. They say it presents a direct obstacle to Russia's negotiations to join the WTO.
Russia is already the second-biggest source of pirated music film and software in the world after China -- costing US companies nearly US$1.8 billion last year, according to anti-piracy groups. The Web site -- Allofmp3.com -- just adds to the dispute.
Apple Computer Inc's iTunes Music Store, which is the world's most popular online store licensed by the industry, charges US$0.99 per song, but the Russian site offers tracks for a tenth of that price.
Songs from new albums by popular rock groups cost between US$0.10 and US$0.16. The whole of one top new album can be had for US$1.40.
According to a report by the UK-based IXN data company, which compared traffic volumes of Web sites offering music downloads, Allofmp3 leapfrogged US online music store Napster over the first half of the year to make it the second most popular music site in the UK after iTunes.
But popular or not, the site is already under criminal investigation by Russian prosecutors and has been picked out by the US Trade Representatives Office as an example of Russia's bad record on tackling piracy.
"The United States is seriously concerned about the growth of Internet piracy on Russian web sites," Neena Moorjani, chief spokeswoman for the Office of the US Trade Representative, said on Friday. She called Allofmp3 "the world's largest server-based pirate Web site."
"Russia's legal framework for intellectual property rights protection must meet WTO requirements ... In that context, we continue to call on Russia to shut down Web sites that offer pirate music, software and films for downloading," she said.
The site warns users to check to make sure they are not violating the laws of their country before downloading songs and insists its mother company -- MediaServices -- is fully licensed to operate under Russian law.
"MediaServices pays license fees for all materials downloaded from the site subject to the Law of the Russian Federation," the site says, citing an agreement with the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society.
That group, which goes by the acronym ROMS, says it collects and distributes royalties for online use of copyrighted music. It claims that under Russian copyright law, it does not need permission from copyright holders to license the sale of music on the Internet.
"What can I say -- this has to be decided by a court and no court has said this is illegitimate," ROMS general director Oleg Nezus told reporters.
"Believe me -- I'm a lawyer, you have to understand the law as a whole," he said.
But Igor Pozhitkov of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents Western recording companies such as Universal, Sony and EMI, says Nezus is reading the law selectively.
According to IFPI's lawyers, agencies such as ROMS do not need to seek permission from rightholders if they are licensing the broadcast, performance or transmission of works by cable -- but they do if it concerns their sale over the Internet.
"They [ROMS managers] are using this as a money machine," Pozhitkov said. "Hopefully they will defend it for a while and then disappear."
Allofmp3.com provides no phone numbers, and questions e-mailed to addresses listed on the site went unanswered.
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to
The US stock market has been on a tear, yet the country’s economy is in the dumps. So why do so many people believe — undoubtedly incorrectly — that the stock market has decoupled from reality? The economy many people experience, while bleak, is local, personal and, for the most part, either not publicly traded or plays only a small part in the stock market’s moves. To explain why these personal experiences have so little effect on equity markets, we must look more closely at the market role of the weakest industry sectors. The surprising conclusion: The most visible and economically vulnerable