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RIAA abandons iTuneski suit

Mistakes failure for victory

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The Recording Industry Ass. of America has dropped its copyright infringement suit against the Russian online music seller AllofM3.com - aka iTuneski.

Early last week, as reported by Bloomberg, the RIAA dismissed its 18-month-old suit without explanation, giving up on claims that AllofMP3 illegally sold millions of copyrighted tunes to buyers across the globe.

The RIAA painted the dismissal as a victory for its ongoing copyright crusade. "We dismissed the case against AllofMP3.com because the site is defunct and out of business. That's good news and a positive result," a spokesman told The Reg.

Of course, AllofMP3 was shut down almost a year ago, and the company behind it, Media Services LLC, seems to be open for business at other addresses, including Alltunes.com and MP3sparks.com.

iTuneski's lawyer, John Crossman of the New York firm Zuckerman, Gore, and Brandeis, sees this as a case of RIAA failure. "They tried and failed to get the case off the ground, and now it's over," he told us.

AllofMP3 was closed by the Russian authorities last July, after US President George W. Bush threatened to bar Russia from the World Trade Organization. The AllofMP3 website relaunched little more than a month later, claiming that cut-rate tunes weren't far behind. But as of today, those tunes have yet to reappear.

MP3sparks has picked up much of the slack - though the RIAA likes to point out that it can't process US credit cards. Early last year, Mastercard and Visa joined the fight against alleged MP3 piracy in the former Soviet Union.

The RIAA also told us that "the Russian government still needs to hold accountable with criminal prosecution those who were behind" AllofMP3. But that's been tried before. Last year, a trio of big-name Western music labels convinced the Russian courts to prosecute the site's onetime owner, Denis Kvasov, and the courts sided with Kvasov.

Media Services has always said its stores are perfectly legal because it makes regular copyright payments to the Russian collection society known as ROMS. And a ruling from Judge Yekaterina Sharapova didn't disagree.

We wouldn't be surprised if iTuneski rides again. ®

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