Why Would The US Gov't Get Involved In Taking Down Foreign Music Sites?

from the seems-a-bit-out-of-their-realm dept

With all of the bills that have shown up in Congress lately that are all about protecting the entertainment industry's increasingly obsolete business model, it's no surprise to find out that that the US government often seems to have little trouble taking orders from the industry. Last week, when the Pirate Bay went down (and, yes, it's now back up) there were rumors that the US government had pressured the Swedish government to take down the site. Now, we're hearing something similar about AllofMP3.com, which the recording industry desperately wants shut down. According to the NYTimes, US officials are telling Russia that the site needs to be shut down if they want entry into the World Trade Organization. If either of these stories are true, it should raise serious questions about why the US government is involved in what is a private dispute. In both cases, the sites have decent claims to being perfectly legal. The Pirate Bay doesn't host any infringing material on its own, but is simply a search engine. Allofmp3 claims to hold the correct licenses in Russia -- and some have claimed that even if you buy from them while in the US, it's no different than importing the music from Russia. Whether or not either claim to legality holds up, it seems like it should be a local matter dealt with inside each country without interference from the US -- especially since that interference is solely for the benefit of a single industry's business model.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ace, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:05am

    If I fly to a foreign nation, buy music while I'm there, and then bring it home to the states... what happens?

     

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  2.  
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    Kelsey, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:08am

    It is the purpose of the government to support US

    One of the charter purposes of the U.S. Foreign Service is to assist US industry and business overseas. The founding fathers realized how critical it is to have the US Government represent American companies when negotiating trade agreements and dealing with foreign countries in regards to a wide variety of tariff, smuggling, theft, and trade issues.

    You may debate the validity of the US position on a given trade initiative etc, but it is important to try and represent US industries abroad. Make no mistake, any other country in the world will use every opportunity to take advantage of US companies, to the detriment of their employees, without some measure of defense by US trade negotiators.

     

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  3.  
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    Geeb, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:16am

    Same old, same old

    US govt subject to unduly strong influences from commercial organizations? US govt using political power for commercial ends, even when clearly in violation of international trade agreements (think steel)?

    Why WOULDN'T they get involved? They've got the power to act with impunity, and the need to keep the campaign donations flowing.

     

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  4.  
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    A not so happy guy, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:21am

    Re: It is the purpose of the government to support

    One of the charter purposes of the U.S. Foreign Service is to assist US industry and business overseas.

    So let me understand: all those Bush's talk about free world trade and removal of import levies, duties and so on in the foreign countries' import of U.S. stuff only applies to stuff that the U.S. exports?

    Russia's copyright laws were fine as long as they only impacted on Russia's internal market. As soon as some Russia guy sees a new business opportunity that extends world-wide (and that is legal againts those same laws) there U.S. starts crying and moaning and fighting back below the belt.

    Mmmh. Not nice.

    BTW, if ever AllOfMp3 gets permanently down, there's a new site called mp3sugar that does pretty much the same thing (and yes, it is Russian and legal in Russia).

     

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  5.  
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    Michael Long, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:34am

    What's not to understand?

    What's not to understand? Music and movies are one of our major export industries. In fact they're one of the few things still "manufactured" here that the rest of the world wants to buy.

    And for all the complaints, I've still yet to hear a substitute "business model" offered that's anything more than about how "they" should charge "fair" prices for their products.

    Of course, they could drop their prices to less than the cost of creation and production, and half the people out there would still think "that" price is too high, and rationalize their theft accordingly.

     

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  6.  
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    Shohat, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:36am

    Governments Job

    With all due respect (and I am all for killing MPAA and RIAA) , it IS the governments job to protect it's country's business interests .
    You know , this is actually what the government does when it doesn't fight wars/poverty/crime etc .It is in the interest of citizens (stock owners or record labels) to get that site removed , and it acts accordingly .

     

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  7.  
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    Jack Sombra, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:48am

    It's normal...generally

    "Why Would The US Gov't Get Involved In Taking Down Foreign Music Sites?"
    Because it improves bank balances of US citizens/corporations?

    It's pretty common for governments everywhere to get involved in promoting/improving worldwide markets for their own industrys, actually in many cases it's a good thing like countries putting presure on others to drop subsidys to sectors like farming as it creates unfair marketplaces

    The problem here is more that the US government is putting presure on other countrys to impliment policys that the US government should not be putting on even their own people never mind others

     

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  8.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:49am

    Re: What's not to understand?

    And for all the complaints, I've still yet to hear a substitute "business model" offered that's anything more than about how "they" should charge "fair" prices for their products.

    Then you don't read here enough. I've pointed out plenty of business models for the industry... many of which are being put into practice.

    Of course, they could drop their prices to less than the cost of creation and production, and half the people out there would still think "that" price is too high, and rationalize their theft accordingly.

    It's not the cost of production, it's the cost of reproduction (as your basic economics lessons would have taught you). And that, obviously, is zero. The trick to understanding the new business models is recognizing that the actual music or movies aren't the product, but the promotion for something else.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:50am

    Re: Governments Job

    With all due respect (and I am all for killing MPAA and RIAA) , it IS the governments job to protect it's country's business interests .

    You're missing my point. This isn't about protecting a business' interests. It's about protecting a particular business *model*. Those are two different things.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    ccc, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 4:13am

    Re: What's not to understand?

    Why do we have to suggest a substitute business model?
    Their business model was the manufacture and distribution of plastic discs. Now nobody needs the manufacture and distribution of plastic discs. Nobody needs this middleman anymore. (Itunes works)

    Their business model is dead, gone, obsolete, finished. We can offer a thousand alternative business models for them, or we can offer none, and neither changes the reality. ITS OVER.

    Was it incumbent on trolley riders to find new jobs for the trolley conductors and trolley company presidents once the riders bought their own cars? Of course not.
    Was it necessary for governmetn to force people to ride trolleys, or at least still pay trolley fares even as they drove themselves to work? No.

    Did the trolley companies need to find a new business model for the use of the trolley? No.

    Trolley companies went under, their employees found new jobs. So can record execs.

    Law doesn't matter, morality doesn't matter - the manufacture and distribution of plastic discs is OVER. Essentially, record companies are trying to force us to still pay for manufacture and distribution of plastic discs - and now we don;t even get the freaking DISCS.

    Paying a trolley fare to drive ourselves to work.

    Record companies also served another role - promotion. Advertising. Well, they can still do that - but when Chrysler pays someone to advertise their cars, they don;t give the ad agency 98% of their profits.

    So the record execs can have a little downsizing - a little pay cut. Artists can sell directly, and the RIAA can keep their advertising part of their business... only for a fare rate.

     

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  11.  
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    Shohat, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 4:36am

    Re: Re: Governments Job

    It's not the government's business to think up , suggest , or compare business models .
    It sometimes does , but I assure you , it is not in our best interests for it to do so .

     

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  12.  
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    ctyankee, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 5:22am

    Stated simply, It's all about the money.

     

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  13.  
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    Yakov, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 5:31am

    Lobbying

    It is a discusting part of American politics, but the US government does not belong to the people it belongs to the corporations that have paid for it and want to get their moneys worth, so yes they want these sites shut down. Now the only reason that this doesn't get people pissed off is because this is a techy hard to understand issue for 90% of the population -- websites getting shutdown for torrents -- aggregation -- digital music legal/illegal ... you loose Joe Sixpacks' attention pretty quickly -- now if US starts pressuring Japan to start closing Nissan, Honda, etc plants because those companies making a better car is hurting Ford and GM, that will be pretty clear to understand -- so if there was a lobby to fight against the RIAA/MPAA -- we'd see those connections made and the US politicians would get a clue.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: What's not to understand?

    "Law doesn't matter, morality doesn't matter - the manufacture and distribution of plastic discs is OVER"

    Asinine statements like this is why laws continue to be passed and enforced ever more strongly.

    You have decided their business model is over, because you don't like it. There are not enough broadband enabled households in the US for the business model to be over. Do you know how I can tell this? Millions of the plastic disks still sell.

    You are a thief, you will steal it, you will not pay. You don't care about business models, you care about not paying.

     

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  15.  
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    Jose, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 6:10am

    Re:

    Well, if you go to China say, and buy bootleg DVDs, upon entry in to the US, IF you are asked to have customs review your luggage, then you will need to surrender the DVDs. Theoretically, you would pay a fine, but don't believe you actually do.

     

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  16.  
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    A musician, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    ok the reason why this is also impacting the US and we are over there is allofmp3.com is not paying the artists, they sell the beatles and metallica and NO ONE has the right anywhere else to sell these but they can? Right, ROMS is a huge loophole and its gone unnoticed up until now. It is also widely known that Russia is very corrupt and even russia's own prosecuters also see a problem with this site..."But popular or not, the site is already under criminal investigation by Russian prosecutors." (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/internet/06/02/web.pirates.ap/index.html) Tell your favorite artist you bought their cd on allofmp3.com, I am guessing they would rather you steal the CD off of p2p because either way the artist isnt getting paid and your not getting screwed. Its simple logic really they can sell whole cds for under 2 dollars? how can they but NO ONE else can? Of course because we are the USA its going to come down because we are greedy...but again the artists and labels have never given them permission to sell their stuff yet this site makes a profit? how can you justify this?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 7:26am

    Why wouldn't they?

    What is the U.S. government? Forget the Preamble to the Constitution. Thats history. The government is an organization that is formed to work in the interests of corporations. And foreign music sites are in the interest of corporations.

     

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  18.  
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    mark, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 8:05am

    liars and thieve

    Our Gov't seems to be more concerned with this crap than they do with our troops in Iraq. Put some effort into helping them instead of trying to bust "foreign" music sites. That is the problem, out shitty Gov't is worried aobut foreign going-on's when it should be concerend with US matters. Assholes.

     

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  19.  
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    L0ki, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 8:12am

    what are you all thinking

    I love the debates on techdirt and other sites over piracy, business models, governmenats etc, but you all seem to over look one very simple fact. The usa, uk and other 1st world countries spend inordinate amounts of time on money on things like piracy as detailed above, all very nice im sure and justifies a lot of beurocrat salaries, how about spending some of that money on rehoming the homeless, paying proper support to the ex servicemen left with shattered lives, rehabilitating criminals rather than locking up teens for smoking pot, or is that all to logical . Why should we care if music companies and artists loose a few million, they still eat, they still have cars, homes and cavier with blinis. Kinda sad that weve come to this. The russian ppl live in almost abject poverty on the most part, struggling to buy a few spuds for dinner, if they found a legal way to make money the usa should just suck it up and leave em alone.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 9:53am

    Its a basic trade policy

    Um, why *wouldnt* the government get involved in the piracy of US art?

    Governments influence each other for trade concessions all the time - not just the US.

    Why would the US government stand by and not even ask foreign governments to shut down sites which are bleeding millions out of the the US workers who created the art and deserve to get paid for their work *just like anyone else*?

     

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  21.  
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    anonymous coward, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 10:16am

    even if the RIAA is successful in getting the U.S. government to pressure Russia to shut down allofmp3.com, there will be lala.com. It is a perfectly legal CD swapping service and it is unstoppable by the RIAA.

    I dare the RIAA to try to stop me from exchanging CDs that I own with other individuals.

    Lala.com is in beta. If you want an invitation, email me at buried dot bodies at the standard gmail domain.

    i am in no way affiliated with lala. i just think that they kick the RIAA in the balls and i love that.

     

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  22.  
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    Rikko, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 10:18am

    We're coming to the point where people are starting to realize that an item that costs nothing to reproduce has an inherently lower value. A company incurs expense to produce one of an item (the same really holds for manufacturing when you pay tens to hundreds of thousands to build, say, a steel mold for making plastic widgets), a disproportionate amount is then applied to each item sold which quickly pays itself off and then results in heinous profits.

    And I'm sorry, but people resent that.

    They also recent overpaid people. That includes actors, musicians, athletes, and high level executives (who I will argue, nonetheless, earn they pay better than the rest in that list).
    I have infinitely more respect for someone who works 12 hours a day in a coal mine to keep his family going than some tart parading around like an imbecile on tv.
    The cost of entertainment will go down when entertainers and their industry of overpaid, spoiled brats start earning realistic salaries and when they all, as a whole, start doing what they do because they love it and not because it pays well.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    matt, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: What's not to understand?


    You are a thief, you will steal it, you will not pay. You don't
    care about business models, you care about not paying.


    uh, what are you talking about?

    of course hes not saying its *literally* over, right now, today. but just that its doomed.

    and he also said "iTunes works" -- so why is he a theif? we're talking about online distribution vs plastic discs, foo!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    matt, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re: What's not to understand?

    Their business model was the manufacture and distribution of plastic discs. Now nobody needs the manufacture and distribution of plastic discs.

    here, here! nice post.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What's not to understand?

    Because I can read

    "Law doesn't matter, morality doesn't matter"

     

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  26.  
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    Scott, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: What's not to understand?

    Mike, I can understand that music media is the promotion for something else, the band in concert, but how can movies be added to that?

    I honestly can not think of any.

    Reproduction equals zero is only viable when saturation of the market can be accomplished over the defined media, in this discussion the internet, requires no physical process. As you have pointed out many times, broadband has not reached that point. There simply are not enough broadband connections, and of those fast enough ones, to rival the number of DVD players in U.S. homes for movie delivery, much less HD movie delivery.

    Assuming you mean DVD delivery and not internet, there are still reproduction costs. People all along the chain get paid for those reproductions, the actors get a portion of media sales for example. Not to mention shipping, artwork, and other assorted costs. Don't get me wrong, paying Jennifer Lopez $12 million for a movie that made less that $8 million is a large portion of their problem. However it seems that you are marginalizing the costs associated.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2006 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: What's not to understand?

    Mike, I can understand that music media is the promotion for something else, the band in concert, but how can movies be added to that?

    I still think movies are the promotion for getting people to go to the movie theater. Of course, for that to happen, the movie theater experience needs to improve significantly...

    In the DVD space, there are plenty of things that can be done, from opening up immediate access to extra features or directors cuts or whatever. Sure, some people will act as freeloaders, but the ones who care about the content are usually willing to pay to be associated with something they like.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    "I dare the RIAA to try to stop me from exchanging CDs that I own with other individuals."

    Herein lies the difference, if you have a large network of friends you will still only affect a small number of people by swapping CD's. Putting music in a torrent exposes it to millions of people you have never and will never meet.

     

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  29.  
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    Wizard Prang, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Re: What's not to understand?

    A good working definition of "fair" is "what the market will bear".

    I consider 99c/track unacceptably high for DRM-laden poor-quality downloads. Let me count the ways...

    Purchased CDs are cheaper, more versatile and come with extra goodies.
    The RIAA pockets 70c of the 99c. Talk about money for nuthin'...
    The Artists get LOWER royalities from downloads

    I have never purchased 99c downloads. I have never purchased DRM-protected CDs.

    Personally I think that allofMP3 has the right idea. Give the consumer what they want, how they want it, and make it cheap enough that it ain't worth piracy.

    Nobody is suggesting that they take a loss - personally I think AllofMP3 is a little too cheap - I would consider 40c/track for high-quality DRM-free music. At that level I would happily consume $10-$20/month of music. That's money that the RIAA is _not_ getting right now.

    Anything more than that and I vote with my feet.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    bentman78, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: What's not to understand?

    I agree. I'd pay 99 cents a track if it wasn't riddled with DRM. Until iTunes and others stop doing it, I'll outsource my buying habots to the best deal, I work too hard for me to spend money on an inferior product

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Jun 5th, 2006 @ 10:07pm

    Back on topic...

    What *official* right does the US have to exclude some country from teh wto on the basis of one company's use of a legal loophole. (for that matter, what power does the Us really have in this amtter?) The US has done many of the things it has invaded/embargoed other countries for, such as the takeover of Hawai, and has no regard for its own constiturtion (Civil War and the provisions for seccesion), so why do people expect the US to be acting correctly on ths matter either.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2006 @ 12:48am

    Re: Governments Job

    get fkd

     

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  33.  
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    gorets, Sep 28th, 2006 @ 6:47am

    I use http://www.lavamus.com With music downloads of all popular artists at only $ 0.10 a song, this can be the final step for most people to buy music online and not download it using peer to peer software.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    alex, Aug 7th, 2007 @ 4:03pm

    Since Allofmp3 has been shut down by russian authorities, it's time to take a look around and see where else legal mp3s can be purchased at a fair price.For the people who want to find other services like allofmp3, here are the 20 allofmp3 alternatives http://www.squidoo.com/review_russianmp3site

     

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