AllofMP3 director found not guilty of copyright infringement

September 2007

Record labels, internet

At the beginning of August proceedings began in the Moscow Cheremushki District Court against Denis Kvasov, the former Director of Mediaservices, which owned the recently closed website. He was accused of breaching the copyright and allied rights under Article 146 of the RF Criminal Code by selling music without the copyright holder’s consent Mr. Kvasov pleaded not guilty stating that he did “everything within the law. The maximum sentence for these offences is three years in prison and a fine of 5 million roubles. Much to the dismay of EMI and Universal who brought the claim (and the wider record industry) Mr Kvasov appears to have successfully promoted the defence that his activities were legal pursuant to Section 3, Article 1, Law 39 of the RF enabled the use phonograms without the producer’s permission by paying compensation (in effect a statutory licence although this loop hole was closed in late 2006). Mediaservices claim they made the necessary payments to the copyright holders through Russian Collection Societies and so the activities of AllofMP3 corresponded to existing Russian legislation. Judge Ekaterina Sharapova acquitted Denis Kravsov and ruled that the site operated within the bounds of Russian law. The Judge was also critical of the prosecution saying that the prosecution did not succeed in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright law. However the main Russian Collection society ROMS has been derecognised by many Western collecting societies having been expelled from the International confederation of Authors and Composers Societies in October 2004. Tellingly the site was selling music by The Beatles who have yet to license their content for download with any sites. There are two more cases against Mediaservices pending, but anti-piracy bodies have argued this ruling has set a “very bad precedent” and the IFPI are hoping that the prosecutors appeal the decision. The issue of IP protection remains a sticking point for Russia’s entry to the WTO:

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