Russian website allofmp3.com has been shut down by the Kremlln after international pressure – particularly from Britain and the U.S – which insisted that the site was breaking the law by not paying royalties to artists and record labels.
The website, which appeared to be a cheap yet legitimate download site, sold tracks for as little as 29p a track. However, music industry executives claimed that copyright holders never received any money from sales.
A U.S. trade representative said last year that closure of allofmp3.com was a non-negotiable condition of Russia's entry to the World Trade Organisation, prompting the Kremlin to act.
After the site was shut down, a very similar site called mp3sparks.com, run by MediaSevices (the company behind allofmp3.com) sprung up, causing some observers to question the Kremlin's commitment to halting the illegal music service.
But at the time of writing, the new site has also disappeared – perhaps an indication that Vladimir Putin's government has little patience with renegade websites when they could have long-term detrimental effects on Russian trade.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) welcomed the demise of the website. 'It's an important step as we seek to direct consumers away from illegal online services toward the many legal alternatives,' said chief executive Geoff Taylor. 'We appeal to UK music fans to stay away from these illegal Russian sites, which make no investment in music and pay no royalties to the artists concerned. True music fans should not support them.'