U.S. to Russia: Allofmp3.com closes door on your WTO chances

Music site is due to make comeback and that may doom Russia's hopes of entering WTO this year.

Should Allofmp3.com reappear, as the controversial online music store has promised, it likely will doom its country's chances of joining the World Trade Organization this year.

"We remain committed to helping Russia make it into the WTO," said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative, the group that negotiates International trade agreements on behalf of the nation. "In order to make that happen though, they have to honor the commitments that they've made especially in the area of intellectual property rights."

If that wasn't clear enough, Spicer was more direct here: "I don't see Russia entering the WTO with sites like Allofmp3.com up and running."

Russia has tried to comply. At least they made an attempt two months ago to shut down Allofmp3.com and try the company's owner, Denis Kvasov, for violating copyright and intellectual property laws. The problem for Russian trade officials is that Kvasov apparently operated a law-abiding site. The Cheryomushki Court in Moscow acquitted Kvasov.

A message posted at Allofmp3.com notified customers that the site will return but doesn't say when. For some undisclosed reason, the date of the message is Aug. 31.

The recording industry claims that Allofmp3.com is a renegade retailer. The company distributes digital downloads without the permission of copyright holders. Allofmp3.com has claimed that it sends royalties to a Russia-based artist's group, but the Recording Industry Assoc. of America doesn't recognize it.

For a long time, U.S. trade officials have tried to pressure Russian authorities to close the site but Allofmp3.com continues to defy the music industry and government regulators from both countries.

Meanwhile, Russia's hopes of entering the WTO by the end of the year are evaporating. Think of the WTO as an exclusive club, one that Russia desperately wants to join.

The WTO is made up of 150 countries that have agreed on rules and regulations regarding trade. This makes selling goods or services overseas easier for companies from member countries, Spicer said.

But the RIAA claims that pirates outside of the U.S. are stealing billions of dollars. Before the U.S. will support Russia's WTO membership, it wants the government to clean up piracy and improve its standing with the entertainment industry.

So Allofmp3.com's fight will likely continue. How long the site can last is anybody's guess. One thing is certain, all the notoriety from the shut down, subsequent trial and reappearance is free publicity for Allofmp3.com.

 

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