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Thursday, June 10, 2004

In Soviet Russia, music pirates YOU

Okay, so the title is a tad misleading. But since I missed the boat on the 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us' phenomenon a few years ago, I thought I should at least get in on the ground floor for the budding 'In Soviet Russia...' movement.

Anyways, yesterday I found the Russian equivalent of iTunes at For those of you familiar with iTunes, you'll find that has a similarly large catalogue of music that you can browse through and sample. However, offers some distinct advantages over its larger American cousin. All the music you download from is encoding on-the-fly at rates of up to 384kbp and are not restricted by digital copyright protection. Don't think that's a big deal? How about this: you pay for downloads by the megabyte at a rate of (sit down for this one) 4 cents US per MB. This reminds me of stories I've heard about software "stores" in China selling software by the pound (now you know why MS Office comes in 5 freaking CD''s an anti-piracy measure).

Apparently, these Russian entrepeneurs are able to offer such competitive prices because copyright laws are interpreted (or rather, enforced) differently in Russia. From what I've read, in Russia it's okay to perform music without the permission of the author as long as it's for broadcasting and cable transmission purposes. And since downloading an mp3 is technically a transmission over a cable, this is supposedly legal.

Now, I'd like to believe this and I'm actually very tempted to try it out (you can pay with Paypal so no worries about your CC number being given to the mob) but I really don't think this is totally right. But then again, I did see Nelly on Cribs last night and he didn't look like he was strapped for cash so maybe he doesn't need my $0.99 after all. In fact, I think this should be the law regarding music downloads: If the performer has ever appeared on Cribs and has more diamond in their mouth than Tiffany's, his/her music should be fair game. It may not stop music piracy completely, but it would at least teach musicians not to flaunt their wealth. We'll save that rant for another day.

Your Favorite Jerk


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