2004.06.09

I’ve been thinking about ALLOFMP3, which seems to be able to exist because Russian copyright law is different from US copyright law. Of course you can access ALLOFMP3 from the US and even sign up with the site and download files, and this may or may not be breaking US copyright law. I think it does, but I don’t know because I am not a lawyer. (See Terms of Use.)

Let’s say it is legal in the US. the first question is, should you use it? Well, use it for what? If you just want to get a ton of new music you don’t have for cheap (pennies per song it seems) then that’s one thing, it’s probably not right. Are the artists losing money? Possibly, it all depends on the label I would think. My guess is for big labels you’re hurting them a lot more than the artists. I’d stay away from new independent artists (if there are any) as most of them seem to have some system in place to support them more directly. (Magnatune perhaps?) What if you just want digital copies of stuff you already own? I spent too much time last summer digitizing some old vinyl I’ve got, which involved connecting a turntable to my Mac, playing and recording the album (which hopefully did not skip and didn’t have any bad hisses or pops) and then splitting the album into tracks, and adding meta data, and… It’s a pain as you can see. So while I’ve got 5 or 6 Clash albums it would take me probably 20 or more hours to get MP3′s of them all.

Ok, so we’ve really got a legal and moral thing going on. I mean, if I were to sign up and download all the Clash material I already own on vinyl and cassette, does this violate US copyright law? Does it violate any US laws? Do I violate any laws when I digitize my vinyl collection? I don’t think it does, isn’t that part of the home recording act or something? My friend had his house burn down, and lost all the music he legally paid for. Was it ok that his friends made tapes of much of it for him? What if out old pal Cam goes back to Russia, downloads a few gigs of songs over there and tries to return home with them? Will he get hassled at the border? Does anyone know the answers? So let’s fast-forward, I’ve got all the Clash songs I want, which I’ve paid for once already, does the Clash lose any money from this? Does the label that put out the recordings? I wouldn’t have bought them on CD or as MP3′s because I’m the kind of person who actually would spend that 20 hours digitizing vinyl if I had to.

What do others think of ALLOFMP3? All sort of things apparently. It makes me sad to see people flock to it and think INCREDIBLE DEAL without considering any other implications…

So the final question, for all the money… Do I sign up and get digital copies of all those dang Clash songs I’ve been rambling on about? What say you?

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