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Russian pirate music download site to reopen


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CORRECTED - Russian pirate music download site to reopen


By Reuters

Thursday August 30, 04:30 PM


(Corrects name of IFPI representative to Pozhitkov from Pozhitkin, makes clear Russian trial was initiated by Russian state and was not civil case, paragraphs 12-14)


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian music download site www.allofmp3.com has said it will resume business soon, after a Moscow court ruled its operation is in accordance with Russian law.


No music is currently on sale, but a statement on the Web site says business will begin shortly, with enhanced payment procedures and a larger selection of music.


The statement was dated Aug. 31, but did not make clear whether that was when the site would resume business.


Earlier this month the Cheryomushki Court in Moscow ruled that Denis Kvasov, allofmp3's former head, was not guilty of intellectual property theft and had not violated Russian copyright laws.


Neither Kvasov nor a representative from allofmp3's parent company, Media Services, could be reached for comment.


The U.S. Commerce Department in 2006 called allofmp3 "the world's highest-volume online seller of pirated music", and made its closure a key point in bilateral trade negotiations for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation.


The site was closed in early July ahead of a summit between the Russian and U.S. presidents, though Internet visitors were directed to a similar Web site where allofmp3 credit could be used to purchase music.


Allofmp3 sold digitally encoded music across a wide range of artists and genres at prices significantly lower than Apple's popular iTunes or the newly legalised version of Napster.


The Russian site also paid no music industry royalties, saying it was in compliance with Russian law by instead paying 15 percent of its profit to a non-commercial partnership that handles licensing and payment for digital media.


"We pay royalties to those who sign up with us and ask for them. But none of the majors, among them I mean labels like EMI and Universal, want their money," said Oleg Nezus of the Russian Organisation for Multimedia and Digital Systems.


"I've been sending them letters since November of 2005, stating there's a dividend. The labels don't respond."


The case heard against Kvasov in the Moscow court was initiated by Russian state prosecutors.


Separate, civil cases against the site are pending in the United States and Britain. Those actions were brought by industry lobby groups on behalf of major recording companies.


"From a Russian law point of view, these sites aren't legal because they go through pseudo-official licensing agencies and don't have direct agreements with copyright holders," said Igor Pozhitkov, regional representative of the IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide.

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