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Russian copyright wars to continue despite AllofMP3 shutdown

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AllofMP3.com, the UK's second most popular source for music downloads after iTunes, has been shut down after diplomatic pressure was piled on Russian authorities.

MediaServices, the combative firm behind the site, is still selling cut-price music however, meaning the international legal posturing is set to continue.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which had won the right to sue AllofMP3 in the UK, told The Reg this morning it was unsure how the shutdown would affect its legal attack.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: "The "reported closure of AllofMP3 is welcome news, and another important step for the recording industry as we seek to direct consumers away from illegal online services towards the many legal alternatives."

The Times reports that a former employee of MediaServices, which was condemned as a music pirate by the recording industry and US government, confirmed that the site was "quietly" downed by the Kremlin last week. It has disappeared and resurfaced several times before, however.

The BPI, along with international affiliates, has long charged that MediaServices is operating as a music pirate. US trade representatives said last October that AllofMP3 was a bar to Russia entry to the World Trade Organisation, although a deal paving the way for its membership was inked in November after Vladimir Putin promised action.

The battle is surely set to continue for the music business. MediaServices owns a similar site, allTunes.com, which is still available. In April, the firm began encouraging AllofMP3 users to switch to a new site called MP3Sparks.com, which says it is owned by a firm called Regiontorg. MP3Sparks uses the same claims to legality as AllofMP3 did, and an identical interface, which contained references to AllofMP3 when it launched. All three sites punt tracks for between about $0.10 and $0.20 each.

MediaServices has always argued that it pays royalties from its cut-price tracks to Russian collection societies, which Western music bodies counter do not represent them.

MediaServices says Russian intellectual property laws mean the societies don't need the permission of copyright owners. Taylor said today: "We appeal to UK music fans to stay away from these illegal Russian sites, which are unlicensed parasites that make no investment in music and do not pay royalties to the artists concerned. True music fans should not support them". ®

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