Good piece today on WSJ.com by Vauhini Vara about the legality Russian MP3 download sites like allofmp3.com: Russian Sites Sell Song Downloads For Pennies, But Are They Legal? (subscription only).
Vauhini quotes lawyers as saying “buying music from the sites is as illegal as downloading it for free over a file-swapping network. “It doesn’t matter if somebody downloads in the U.S. and believes that it’s legal because the site tells them so,” says Evan Cox, an intellectual property lawyer at the firm Covington & Burling in San Francisco.” Elsewhere in the story, Vauhini quotes Peter Necarsulmer, president of the Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based group that watches copyright-related activity in Russia as saying: “Russian legislation is the same as the rest of the world…Therefore, placing music on a Web page without the author’s permission is, of course, illegal.”
The problem, according to Vauhini, is that going after the services “could be difficult. “You’d have to subpoena the sites to get their records, and if they’re operated out of Russia, it may not be such an easy task,” says Michael S. Poster, a corporate and entertainment lawyer at Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman in New York.”