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UK music biz wins right to sue AllofMP3 here

Difficult battle ahead, even if BPI is victorious in court

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Britain's recording companies - major and minor - will be able to sue controversial Russian digital music site AllofMP3.com in the UK, the English High Court has ruled. The judgement was granted to music trade body the British Phonographic Institute (BPI), which claims the low-cost music site is operating illegally.

AllofMP3.com has no UK operation, but it sells to UK consumers. Indeed, according to market watcher XTN Data, it's the second most popular site for digital-music purchases in Britain, behind Apple's iTunes Music Store but ahead of Napster, Wippit, MSN and co.

The Russian site's legal status is moot. It claims to have a licence to offer music for sale on line. Music organisations like the BPI and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) believe it's breaking the law, by distributing music without the permission of the owner. The site claims it doesn't need that permission, and the general consensus is that it's operating beyond the spirit of the law if not the letter of the law.

Of course, the UK court has no jurisdiction over Russia, so a guilty verdict is extremely unlikely to affect the site. If the case goes against AllofMP3.com, it simply establishes that it's against the law for British consumers to use the site. Proving that they do and preventing them from doing so will be very difficult indeed.

It will be easier to target ISPs, in a bid to force them to block access to the controversial site, but even that approach won't guarantee success. ®

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