Fresh from their latest strategy to annoy North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the US government is now going after Russian download site Allofmp3.com.
AllofMP3 has long been an annoyance to the music industry, offering high quality MP3s for just 6p per track. This compares with the 79p that rivals such as iTunes typically charge. For example, the recent Just Like the Fambly Cat album by Grandaddy is obtainable for just £1.30.
The site is able to charge so little because it pays no royalties to any of the record labels that own the recordings, meaning it can make a profit on albums no matter how much it charges. In doing so, it's breaking just about every single copyright law in existence.
Many analysts say the website is Russia's biggest single barrier to becoming part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The shutdown will considerably improve Russia's chances of joining the WTO, according to an official document outlining the agreement on copyright issues between Russia and the US.
The document states: "The United States and Russia have agreed on a binding blueprint for actions that Russia will take to address piracy and counterfeiting and improve protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), both stated priorities of the Russian government, starting immediately."
Allofmp3.com is mentioned explicitly as a website that permits "illegal distribution of music and other copyright works".
Estimates show that AllofMP3.com had 14 per cent of the UK music download market in April this year, according to market watcher XTNdata. Only Apple's iTunes had more, with a 44 per cent chunk.
The Russian government has also promised to take action against CD and DVD pirating companies.
Russia currently produces about 390 million CDs and DVDs a year, providing the rest of the world with a huge amount of bootleg music and films. James Rivington
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