The former head of the popular-yet-shady MP3 site Allofmp3.com is looking at some jail time and some hefty fines in his home country of Russia now that his site has been shut down. The authorities say he owes the RIAA a bunch of money and was violating all sorts of copyright laws. The only problem is, well, that he didn't actually break any Russian laws by running the site.
While he sold boatloads of copyrighted files from his site with virtually none of the revenues going to the copyright owners, he was actually giving 15% of his revenue to the Russian Organization for Multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS), a collecting agency similar to ASCAP here in the States. If a record label went to ROMS and asked for their cut, they would have gotten it, but they would have had to agree that the whole situation was legit.
Even if they didn't think it was, it was how things worked in Russia, at least until the RIAA put pressure on the US government to put pressure on the Russian government to change their copyright laws. Now the laws have been changed, Allofmp3.com has been shut down only to be replaced by a number of very similar sites, and Denis Kvasov is being prosecuted for breaking laws that didn't exist when his site was up and running. Boy, what a heartwarming story! But hey, if the Black Eyed Peas get a few more bucks in royalties out of this, I guess it'll all be worth it, right? [CrunchGear]