|Format||MPEG Layer 3 (.mp3), Advanced Audio Coding (.m4a, .m4b, .mp4, .m4p, .m4v, .m4r, .3gp, .aac), OGG Vorbis (.ogg), FLAC (.flac), WAV (.wav), Windows Media Audio (.wma), Musepack (.mpc), Monkey's Audio (.ape), OptimFROG (.ofr)|
|Preview||Partial previews of songs are available for free. Users who have paid over $50 in the past can preview full songs.|
|Availability||Russia, legal status in other locations is questionable.|
AllOfMP3, MP3Sparks and MemphisMembers are brands of online music store that were operated by Mediaservices, Inc., a company founded in 2000 in Moscow, Russia. The stores formerly sold music encoded in standard, non-protected audio formats at a significantly lower cost than other online music stores. In 2008, the original AllOfMp3 site was replaced by a blog.
Run by the Moscow company MediaServices, AllOfMP3 had an estimated revenue of US$30 million in 2006. According to the IFPI and various other label representatives the company has never transferred money to any (western) label. AllofMP3 claims to have offered settlements to IFPI, which AllOfMP3 claims IFPI refused to accept.
AllOfMP3's legality is controversial. It is licensed in Russia by the Russian Organization for Multimedia and Digital Systems, a licence similar to agreements held by Russian radio stations. AllOfMP3 states that this agreement allows it to distribute music legally from all artists and all labels. This is disputed by most major record labels, which generally do not recognize ROMS or believe that it has the authority to distribute their works. AllOfMP3.com makes no claims as to its legality outside of Russia. However it is accessible to visitors in all countries.
In 2005, Moscow authorities began investigating the site as a result of a formal complaint from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), who accused the site of "large-scale copyright infringement".
On June 1, 2006, the New York Times reported that US trade negotiators have warned Russia that the continued existence of AllOfMP3 could jeopardize Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization. This was reiterated by the United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab in remarks to the US Chamber of Commerce on September 28, 2006. She later told reporters that "I have a hard time imagining Russia becoming a member of the WTO and having a Web site like that up and running that is so clearly a violation of everyone's intellectual property rights."
On December 18, 2006, the RIAA, on behalf of EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group filed a US$1.65 trillion lawsuit against the site. That equates to US$150,000 for each of 11 million songs downloaded between June to October 2006, and exceeds Russia's entire GDP. $150,000 is the statutory limit for copyright infringement awards in the United States. Allofmp3 responded to the lawsuit saying "AllofMP3 understands that several U.S. record label companies filed a lawsuit against Media Services in New York. This suit is unjustified as AllofMP3 does not operate in New York. Certainly the labels are free to file any suit they wish, despite knowing full well that AllofMP3 operates legally in Russia. In the mean time, AllofMP3 plans to continue to operate legally and comply with all Russian laws.".
In May 2007, UK police arrested a 25-year old man on fraud charges for selling allofmp3.com vouchers on sites such as eBay and allofmp3vouchers.co.uk. The man was reported to be funneling money from the sale of these vouchers back to the owners of the site in Russia. A statement in relation to this alleged transfer of funds to Russia was made by the British Phonographic Industry chairman.
In an interview with p2pnet, a MediaServices representative said "It is disappointing that United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab completely and deliberately mischaracterized AllofMP3.com. Furthermore, it is irresponsible to use AllofMP3.com as a negotiating instrument in an attempt to extract concessions from Russia in return for US support for accession to the World Trade Organization".
In August 2007, Denis Kvasov, head of the company which owned AllofMP3.com, was acquitted of all charges stemming from copyright infringement prosecution. The prosecution was seen as a test case of Russia's commitment to fighting piracy, and was brought after EMI, NBC Universal and Time Warner lobbied for such prosecution.
In January 2008 The Register reported that MP3Sparks.com and its associated web sites were being hosted (since December 2007) by AbdAllah Internet, a Turkish web hosting service which allegedly provides safe harbour for spam and malware operations as well as having strong links to the Russian Business Network. For this reason access to the AbdAllah network is blocked by some ISPs, including all UK members of LINX, therefore blocking access to MP3Sparks as well.
Closure of AllOfMP3
In June 2007, AllOfMP3 announced on their site that they were "closed for maintenance", while Times Online reported that an unnamed person claiming to be an ex-employee told them it was closed down following pressure from the Russian government. MP3Sparks, however, remained available, as did the AllTunes download service.
Following the acquittal of Denis Kvasov by a Moscow court in August 2007, a brief message was posted at the site's blog, stating "The service will be resumed in the foreseeable future".
About the services
The sites offer Russian and English user interfaces. All functions, except for the buying of songs and full length song previews, are available to unregistered users (and full length preview of songs is restricted to individuals who have spent a total of $50 or more on the website). Registration is free. The store maintains an account balance for each user; while a user's account has a positive balance, he or she can continue downloading music. To do so, the user selects the files for download from the store's catalog.
This price is often reduced by a complicated system of discounts based on cumulative usage, promotions, and type of payment. These discounts can reduce the effective price of downloads by up to one third of the original cost.
Users outside UK and US can also pay using a variety of credit cards at ChronoPay processor. ChronoPay had announced on March 20, 2007 that they would no longer be processing payments from online Russian music stores that only hold a ROMS license (e.g. AllOfMP3), but this does not apply to MP3Sparks which has an NP FAIR license.
Between April and June 2007, it had become difficult for users to fund their AllOfMP3 accounts themselves, and a number of users and sites began selling AllOfMP3 gift vouchers on the Internet. However, in May 2007 a man who had been selling vouchers was arrested in London, and this led many other voucher sellers to shut down their operations.
AllOfMP3 (and now MP3Sparks) allows users to choose from a variety of audio codecs for audio files. Lossy formats are offered in constant bitrates up to 320kbit/s or variable bitrates up to maximum quality in the following formats:
Select albums are also being made available in Lossless audio codecs in the following formats:
Most music is encoded straight from source, which is dubbed Online Encoding Exclusive, so gapless albums could provide gapless playback, unlike most other music services. There is no extra charge for using the Online Encoding Exclusive service. The user sets the codec parameters, including the desired bitrate, allowing for superior quality over other music download services such as iTunes and Napster.
Downloaded files do not contain digital rights management information, allowing unrestricted use between multiple computers and digital audio players. This differentiates AllOfMP3 from many other music download services, which limit the use of the music the user may purchase and the platforms on which it may be played.
The websites also offer free, full album previews, streamed at a bitrate of 24 kilobits per second (roughly equivalent to analog telephone audio quality). Registered users who have spent less than $50 have access to 90 second samples, and unregistered users have access to 30 second samples.
Music for Masses
In late 2006, AllOfMP3 experimented with a feature called "Music for Masses" which allowed users to download DRM-protected music for free. The files were encoded in a proprietary MP3 format (.mp3x) that could only be played in the Music for Masses player, and could not be transferred to a portable media device. However, the DRM protection was cracked within a week. Although AllOfMP3 released a compulsory update to the player software which rendered the original crack unusable, they eventually removed the service in December 2006.
The standard method of downloading purchased music is directly from the services' "My Downloads" pages. Files can be downloaded from the links on this page using a web browser, or alternatively a download manager or a command-line utility such as wget (the site offers a "list of links" which can be written to a file and used as input for such tools). Download speeds vary but typically hover around 40-120 kilobytes per second on broadband connections.
A more streamlined experience for AllOfMP3 account holders is offered by the Microsoft Windows application allTunes and the older Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X application AllofMP3 Explorer. These applications allow the user to browse and search the entire AllOfMP3 catalogue (which is downloaded and stored locally for faster searching) and select files for download. The application then downloads the files in the background.
- "Russian Download Site Is Popular and Possibly Illegal", New York Times, June 1, 2006
- "Music Labels: Nyet to Russian Pirates" New York Post, December 21, 2006
- "Barely Legal", Slate Magazine, March 28, 2005
- "Russian police probe cheap downloads site" The Register, February 22, 2005
- "Remarks by U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab, U.S. Chamber of Commerce", September 28, 2006
- "U.S. pushes Russia in WTO talks to close MP3 site", ZDNet, October 5, 2006
- "Swedish Tele2 Will Block AllofMP3.com" Russian Spy, October 27, 2006
- "Record labels sue operator of Russian music Web site AllofMP3.com" Boston Herald December 22, 2006
- "Sued for $1.65 Trillion" cybernetnews.com December 22, 2006
- "Music Labels: Nyet to Russian Pirates", New York Post, December 21, 2006
- 17 U.S.C. § 504(c) US CODE: Title 17,504. Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits (Cornell University Law School)
- "AllofMP3.com Responds to the $1.64 Trillion Lawsuit" Slyck.com, December 27, 2006
- "MP3 site's voucher system closes" BBC News, May 21, 2007
- "Police dawn raid stops allofmp3.com pirate vouchers scheme", BPI press release, May 21, 2007
- "p2pnet talks to AllofMP3.com" p2pnet, 28 May 2007
- "Russian pirates get Visa in court" CNews July 13, 2007
- "Russian court acquits music site owner" Yahoo News August 16, 2007
- "MP3sparks.com downed by links to Russian cybercrime gang" The Register, January 11, 2008
- "" Bloomberg
- "Russia shuts down Allofmp3.com" Times Online, July 2, 2007
- "Russian music site to 'relaunch'" BBC News Online, August 28, 2007
- "Visa halts its service for allofmp3.com" CNET, October 18, 2006
- "Blacklisted AllofMP3 slams 'capricious' Visa and Mastercard" The Register, October 19, 2006
- "JSC ChronoPay accepts Russian music stores with NP FAIR license only" (ChronoPay press release)
- "AllofMP3 voucher operation shut down in Europe" Ars Technica, May 21, 2007
- "Moscow Music Site Defends Free Downloads" New York Times October 18, 2006
- "MusicForMe cracks AllOfMP3's DRM, hilarity ensues" Engadget, October 25, 2006
- US CODE: Title 17,402. Notice of copyright: Phonorecords of sound recordings
- US CODE: Title 17,602. Infringing importation of copies or phonorecords
- UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (c. 48), Section 22. Secondary infringement: importing infringing copy
- AllOfMP3.ru AllOfMP3 homepage.