October 25, 2006

LATimes Playing To The Hometown Audience? [7:36 am]

Just how central should AllofMP3 be to the US trade negotiations with Russia? Alternatively, is this a moment to rethink what IP policies ought to be? AllofMP3’s problems - pdf

This is not a case of the U.S. entertainment-industry tail wagging the U.S. government-policy dog. The AllofMP3 case isn’t a problem just for copyright holders, and the United States isn’t the only country pressing Russia to do something about it. The website is emblematic of fundamental problems in Russia’s legal system that call into question its ability to play by the WTO’s rules, resolve important commercial disputes and integrate itself into global commerce.

Ultimately, the United States has much more at stake in these talks than reining in one of many global sources of bootlegged music. A successful Russian entry into the WTO would be a boon to world trade and to the former communist country’s transformation into a free-market economy.

Mediaservices argues that the site is fully licensed by Russian authorities and that it pays at least 15% of its revenue to Russian royalty collection agencies. But even if that’s the case, it just means that the agencies usurped the music industry’s rights and granted licenses they had no authority to grant. For instance, AllofMP3 offers more than 40 downloadable Beatles albums despite the fact that the band has never given permission for its songs to be sold online.

[...] If Russia wants to show that it’s ready to join the WTO and live up to international trade commitments, it should start by following the example of Italy and Germany and stop the global infringements by AllofMP3. The importance of intellectual property will only increase as the world’s economy becomes more connected. By taking a stand against the website, the United States is showing that it cares about everyone’s intellectual property, not just the entertainment industry’s.

Hmmmmm

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