Which legal mp3 sites do you use?

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Code Monkey

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kornchild2002 said:
No, it is completely illegal for residents outside of Russia to use these types of websites.
Statute please. Saying it's illegal doesn't make it prosecutable. I am not asking if the RIAA would potentially try to sue you, them saying they'll sue is unrelated to demonstrating that it's illegal, they'd like to sue all of us for ripping our CDs to our iPods. I'm asking for an actual law you are breaking by purchasing music from them.

Hint: there isn't one. It is no more illegal for me to buy music from one of these Russian sites than it is for me to buy music from totally up and up foreign operations like YesAsia or CDJapan. Again, not saying it's right, or they're actually a good idea, just saying that using them does not violate any law that I am aware of. It would basically require a special act of Congress in the U.S. to make purchasing from them illegal, and it would still be unenforceable.

I already know that allofmp3 was illegal as it was shut down. Otherwise it would still be up operating today.
It is operating today, it's just not called Allofmp3.com. They weren't breaking the law, they just became too much of a hot potato so the parent company shut down the allofmp3.com website and simply opened up at least two differently named sites selling the same content. Word is that the most popular, mp3sparks.com, is now suffering the sort of payment blockade like allofmp3.com did last year, but it's still very much in operation.

These sites are not a good idea, I agree. Whether it's because the labels refuse their ROMs payments like the site owners say or whether they actually don't even try to pay the artists is immaterial, so long as the artists and writers won't be getting paid and they are profiting, you're simply paying money to avoid the risk of file sharing. That's kind of low, no argument, but it still doesn't make them illegal no matter what you or the RIAA wants to claim. Unless there's a specific federal statute against purchasing music how can it be illegal? Truthfully, you should be glad it's not illegal, because any of the legal justifications for such a prohibition would have a lot of intended side effects that would be devastating to music fans not interested in geographic borders. The same law that would make it illegal to buy from a site akin to allofmp3.com would likely make it a federal crime to buy a foreign iTunes gift card and set up an account to purchase music not distributed in the U.S.. No thanks. I'll let the RIAA put pressure on credit card companies to stop payments to these companies - it's far more effective and leaves my import CDs the heck alone.
 

kornchild2002

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You are right, there are no statues but I can tell you why they are illegal. Every bit of media on a site such as mp3sparks or allofmp3 was/is licensed by the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (ROMS) and the Rightholders Federation for Collective Copyright Management of Works Used Interactively (FAIR). Those websites were paying license fees subject to Russian law and were abiding by ROMS' rules. That is fine and all for distributing music inside of Russia. However, neither MediaServices nor ROMS (or FAIR for that matter) can control the actions of foreign users and neither of them comply to European and U.S. distribution laws (both of which state that you must pay the copyright holders). So they were rightfully paying to distribute media in Russia following its laws, they weren't paying to distribute music in any other country though.

On top of that, ROMS didn't have the appropriate rights from the record companies to license the music. Both ROMS and MediaServices were well aware that the record companies did not grant authorization for their services. That means that these sites are taking unlicensed material (it is unlicensed as the copyright holders did not give them permission to distribute it) and are distributing it in other countries. They are not being authorized by the copyright holders to do this.

Now, if you want to take things to the UK, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) also ruled that allofmp3 was illegal as they don't pay royalties to the artists and copyright holders (the record companies).

So these websites are taking something that is copyrighted and not theirs and they are distributing it for a small price. So according to ROMS, allofmp3 was legal to operate in Russia but they can't control outside access. I found it rather funny how allofmp3 made their site so U.S./UK user friendly even though the site was only meant for Russian citizens living in Russia. However, even then, ROMS does not have the appropriate rights to license music. It might work in Russia but not in other countries. According to a word-for-word interpretation of the DMCA, allofmp3 is legal in Russia though. The main problem is that both UK and U.S. customers greatly outweighed Russian customers. In fact, allofmp3 pulled in 14% of all downloads back in 2006 and came only second to iTunes in the UK.

So that is why allofmp3 was found to be illegal and shutdown and that is why mp3sparks will soon meat the same fate.
 

Code Monkey

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kornchild2002 said:
You are right, there are no statues but I can tell you why they are illegal.
You can't, because you just explained why they are legal. I think you have a misunderstanding of what "illegal" means. Illegitimate, yes, they could be construed as illegitimate as in "not selling that which is approved by the commonly recognised controlling parties", but illegal, nope, can't be done. Illegal means that they and their users are breaking a given criminal code by either operating or using the sites, full stop. Fortunately for these companies and their customers, the buying and selling of, essentially, "counterfeit products" manufactured in a country that doesn't recognise international enforcement of "trademark", their "counterfeit" status makes neither party a criminal. We don't have to approve of it (albeit I have no problem with the principle of compulsory licensing and flat fee compensation even if your label took no part in the negotiation) to admit the truth: if the sites don't break any law in the land they operate under and buyers don't break any law in the land they purchase under, that makes the sites and their customers legal.

As for shutting down mp3sparks, no sign that it's happening, and if it does, the owners have at least two other sites currently operating unimpeded, and they can always start another, it's just a web front for their media hosting servers after all. The sites get hurt not because they're breaking laws but because it's a relatively simple matter for the RIAA, IFPI, etc. being the mafia like network that they are, to bring threats and pressure to credit card and online payment services such that people in countries under their sway can no longer pay these legal businesses to use them. Going back to my last post, the ability for the RIAA/IFPI to "influence" payment handlers to blacklist certain businesses says nothing about their legality, only that Visa et al. have no interest in losing money on fighting frivolous lawsuits from these cancers regarding allegedly facilitating the breaking of copyright for the single digit percentage they make from payments to the services.
 

skruggie

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Also, the RIAA or their counterparts in other countries cannot decide that something is "illegal". They are not lawmakers and can only make threats. They don't make laws.
 

kornchild2002

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Please forgive me if I define (so does most of the world) an illegal action as someone distributing copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. This means that I can go ahead and purchase a CD, rip it, go online, and then charge $0.05 per track. Now I know how to make money.
 

bdb

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If you guys want to declare something legal or illegal, it should be based on laws and/or court rulings, not personal opinions.

The Russian copyright law is available on in English from Rospatent (http://www.fips.ru/ruptoen2/law/low_cop.htm), so its available to anyone. I read through that a couple of years ago, but it should be changed by now.

A couple of year ago, the copyright law was set up based on licensing agreements; ROMS was an official licensing agent and allofmp3 paid them 15%. The Russian law stated that the licensing agencies were responsible for negotiating prices with the copyright owners. But here's the rub: if they couldn't agree on the price, the licensing agency could set a price. The law stated flat-out that they could license music without the copyright owners' permission.

Hence all the legal conclusions: a Russian judge ruled that Visa was illegally blocking allofmp3; charges against allofmp3 were dropped; the RIAA lawsuit against allofmp3 were dropped.

Just taking a quick look through the latest version, I don't see these provisions anymore. The Russian government had agreed to bring their copyright law in line with International standards, so it looks like that may have happened. That should make these sites illegal now.

As Code Monkey stated, its illegal to import music if it was acquired illegally. US copyright law pertains to copy & distribution, not receipt or import. A law school posted an analysis of the pertaining US laws that came to these conclusions, but I can't find it anymore. It hasn't been tested in court, so analysis of the laws is all there is.
 
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Code Monkey

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kornchild2002 said:
Please forgive me if I define (so does most of the world) an illegal action as someone distributing copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. This means that I can go ahead and purchase a CD, rip it, go online, and then charge $0.05 per track. Now I know how to make money.
If you first move to Russia or Taiwan, have at it, that's why there are laws, to define precisely what you can and cannot be punished for doing. Do it in the U.S. and you will certainly be guilty of unauthorized distribution and should be punished.

The notion of international copyright is an agreement, nothing more, and is only enforceable when countries have mutually agreed to enforce one another's various copyright claims. Many countries do not, as is their right as sovereign nations, recognise the copyright of foreign countries. This is not surprising when you consider how twisted copyright has become in western lands. Copyright originally had a two-fold purpose: The first was to give the creator of something a short (20 year iirc) span to profit from something unhindered but, secondarily, compulsorarily return all copyrighted works to the public domain once that 20 year period was up. Since U.S. and U.K. copyright dismissed the notion that copyright exists as much to ensure that everything eventually becomes public domain after a reasonable amount of time by de facto extending copyright for all time in many cases (how can copyright, now extended to, I believe, the life of the creator plus 20 years ever expire when most important copyright is held by corporations and not individuals?). If I were any other country you can bet I wouldn't recognise U.S. or U.K. copyright, either, it's not copyright, it's legal thievery from the people.
 

Ahiruchan

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I buy from iTunes. I appreciate the ease of use, and for as infrequently as I purchase music online, I will pay a little extra because its easy. I still prefer CDs, as I enjoy having the packaging.
 

Razor70

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I too still buy my music on CD when I can. The only two stores we have left in the area that carries CD's is Walmart and Kmart. I could use Amazon to order my cd's through (which in the future I probably will)..but if it's something I want right away and can't find around here on cd..I will look at Amazon mp3 downloads first. I used to use Itunes, but with the Amazon store, I don't see a reason too anymore.
 

Sparky_92

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Nothing wrong in using Russian music sites...

kornchild2002 said:
Please forgive me if I define (so does most of the world) an illegal action as someone distributing copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder. This means that I can go ahead and purchase a CD, rip it, go online, and then charge $0.05 per track. Now I know how to make money.
How do you know that http://mp3sparks.com/ distributes copyrighted material without the permission of copyright holders?:confused:

Show me a single valid link that shows that the FBI or any local or state police agency declares the act of purchasing an mp3 from these Russian sites is bad?:confused:

Hear me out. I'm not trying to flame. I think all of the hate on AllofMp3 and it's clones is based on rather uhm racist attitudes that any Russian business is illegal.

It's the same attitude that Bittorrent gets. People automatically think that P2P == Evil because of the whole blown out of proportion Napster thing.

Another thing, if you feel that artists are losing out because people by from Russian sites, why are you purchasing Chinese goods? Because it's cheaper!:shake:
 

bdb

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Why would federal, state and local police have statements about something in another country? Of course, the US government did hold up Russia's entry into the WTO because of allofmp3 (what mp3sparks used to call itself), and that seems like quite a "statement". Russia also promised to bring their copyright law in line with other developed countries, which should make it illegal. It wasn't illegal at the time, but that was just because the Russian laws were really crazy.

Numerous copyright owners (IFPI, RIAA) have confirmed that these sites are selling their music without their permission. They not only made statements, they sued.

The US government has been putting similar pressure on China and other governments that aren't controlling copyright infringement. Its nothing to do with "racism".

So where are your statements that P2P==Evil? Copyright owners just think its illegal, and in the case of copyrighted music, it is. Whether its "right" or "wrong" to break that law is a personal decision.

I personally have nothing against P2P when the copyright owners don't have a problem with it. If its RIAA music, they've been pretty clear about it. As far as these copyright loophole sites go, its just paying someone else to pirate your music for you and I really don't see the point.
 
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kornchild2002

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Thank you bdb, that is what I keep saying. I am not trying to be racist and say that all Russian. It is a fact that the copyright holders (mainly the record companies) don't like these sites selling music simply because they are not following copyright standards. Normally one must pay a fee for having access to copyrighted material whether it be a movie, music, or game. Whenever one purchases an audio CD, DVD, Blu-ray, or video game, one is simply purchasing the rights to play the content for personal use only. It might be legal in Russia to download said songs from these sights but downloading from mp3sparks (in the U.S.) is just as illegal as downloading the copyrighted album from a P2P/torrent service in the U.S. All people are doing with these Russian mp3 sites is paying for someone to surf the internet and download the album. It is funny that music pops up on these Russian sites at around the same time (either a little before or a little after) as it pops up on torrent sites. It has also been shown that some lossless FLAC downloads are in fact encoding from -V 2 mp3's given the frequency plots. I know that I wouldn't want to pay ~$7 (the last time I checked was back in 2005) for FLAC files that come from pirated mp3 files.
 

bdb

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Most of the copyright laws deal with distribution, not receipt. Since that isn't happening in the US, legal analysis has speculated that import laws apply (though none of this has been tested in court, so its all opinion). Per import laws, if you purchased it legally in another country, you can import it for personal use. The fact that copyright agencies have always either failed to sue or dropped suits before they go to court tends to support that opinion.

So its just the general spirit of international copyright law that was being violated when the owner wasn't even being asked about the price or allowed to approve distribution. Technically you were just paying someone to pirate your music, but they were protected by an outrageous legal loophole. Supposedly this has changed, making it illegal to purchase in Russia (and hence illegal to import into the US).
 

kennz

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Ok. My version of fair is not being ripped off, do you get it! Now to the cost. As i have stated itunes sets the price. What part of that do you not under stand? It is not the record companies.
You keep talking about allofmp3 and being closed down, i am not talking about them so why are you. They were guilty of something ok. And regarding other sites and how did it go, THE INTERWEB IS NOT UNIVERSAL really !
I think you may find you are alone on that one mate.
As for my definiton of fair beind different from yours AND EVERYONE ELSES , my god you are overblown and seam to think you speak for the world!
No i think you will find that asking to PAY a fair price for goods is not unreasonable and when there is such a differance between music sold from the same place by the same people at greatly different pricing then i will say THAT IS UNFAIR.
 

kornchild2002

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Well, there is a difference between being fair and being legal. My version of fair would mean that all the items sold in Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, car dealerships, etc. would be free. Apple is NOT the only company who sets the price for iTunes Store music. Way back in 2003 when the iTunes Store first opened (I was there and participated in it), Apple and the record companies struck a deal to price the songs at $0.99 a piece and albums at $9.99 to $12.99 depending on how many songs were in the album. The record companies thought that the iTunes Store was going to flop anyway so they were alright with the $0.99 price point. The iTunes Store took off and is now the number one music distribution system in the U.S. Well, the record companies want to change the prices of the music. They want to charge $2.50 for the hit singles, $1.50 for other songs that are popular but not quite hits, and $0.99 for the other songs. They don't want to give a discount for purchasing the entire album either, they want people to purchase all the songs separately. This means that a hit Hanna Montana album could cost tweens $20 through the iTunes Store. Apple keeps negotiating with the record companies to keep the $0.99 price per song point and so far, the record companies are agreeing simply because the iTunes Store is so successful. This is all for the U.S. mind you. The record companies (mainly the distribution companies which are privately owned) in charge of distributing content for other countries have fought Apple over the years for prices. So yes, the record companies are a major influence when it comes to iTunes Store music prices. I think that Apple could fight them a little bit but it is hard to fight a privately owned distribution company as they could always just pull their content and not offer it on the iTunes Store.

The internet is international though and websites that are legal in one country are not legal in other countries. I keep mentioning allofmp3 because it was one of the first Russian $0.02 per song websites to pop up. All of these other Russian websites are simply clones of that one and they offer the exact same services as nearly the same prices or the same prices. One cannot look at these websites without going back and observing allofmp3.

My main point is that the iTunes Store prices are higher in other countries but Apple is NOT the only company to blame here and that is NO excuse to turn to these illegal websites like mp3sparkz. That is like complaining that you can't purchase a bottle of Jack Daniels for $20 so you run out and purchase a bump of cocaine for $5. So boycott the iTunes Store all you want and use other legal services. Just do go the illegal route and put all the blame on Apple when some of the blame goes to them along with the local governments, distribution companies, and record companies. You do realize that Apple pays a higher amount of taxes to offer their service in France, don't you? Apple also pays more taxes in other countries as well. I guess one would expect Apple to endure these higher taxes and sell each song at a loss and end up owing both the record companies, governments, and distribution companies.
 

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Back when mp3 was new, and the internet was a downloading smorgasbord. I used Napster. Now I feel kinda guilty about the amount of music I downloaded. After they were shut down, and the party ended, I switched back to purchasing CDs. Just recently I've subscribed to emusic, and I love it. I'm on the 17.99 a month plan, and can download 50 tracks a month. I've been able to find an album I've been looking for for 10 years. It's legal, it's a trusted source, non DRM, and it satisfies my bruised conscience, that I'm paying the artists for the music I'm enjoying.
 

melsmusic

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In Australia we have very few to choose from.

iTunes Plus would have been rated the best, but Bigpond Music has just introduced 320kbps MP3 - no DRM. This is really a step in the right direction.

I had purchased a few songs from Bigpond prior to the MP3 introduction, WMA DRM, and the licence rubbish you had to go through was woeful. It just wasn't worth it.

They also are giving away free tracks like iTunes now, but MP3 and without the hassle of them disappearing after 2 weeks.

So hopefully we are seeing some competition with the download music stores, but I'm still a sucker for a physical CD.
 

Dewaine

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Back on topic.....

I buy from Amazon... excellent quality and good prices and most important... no DRM.....oh, and no need to argue about if it's legal or not :) Amazon is about as legal as it gets... :)
 

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are these russian sites even safe? I checked the one someone mentioned here and the songs are like .25 each....
 

kornchild2002

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owenstar said:
are these russian sites even safe? I checked the one someone mentioned here and the songs are like .25 each....
Not back to this again... They are technically safe as your credit card information will not be shared and I have yet to find a site that gives away infected files. That being said, often times the digital files are simply transcoded from lossy files. Their older "ripped" files were encoded at around 380kbps using the Lame mp3 encoder. This is known as free format and it is still lossy. They then transcode those 380kbps files down to lower bitrates. Additionally, some of their newer content was transcoded from -V 2 pirated files that they downloaded off of torrent/p2p networks. People have plotted their wave form to see FLAC files that have a frequency cutoff point of about 18KHz. This means that the FLAC files were transcoded from -V 2 ripped Lame mp3 files, that is not true lossless.

So I would have a hard time giving my money to someone who uses lossy files for all their source needs. I would rather give my money to a legal service such as Amazon, get -V 0 encoded mp3 files, and know that at least some of my money is going towards the artist.
 
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