, get legal mp3 albums for about a buck

by Mike Shea on 15 February 2005

This is going to sound like an advertisement, but it's legit. Last night I ordered about five albums including two Vangelis albums and Pink Floyd's The Wall, and about half a dozen singles including some Depeche Mode and Janis Joplin. Total price for about 70 songs? About nine bucks. (click the "English" link) is the iTunes killer. It has a huge selection of music that you can download without evil consumer-crushing digital rights protection for literal pennies. Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" cost me five cents. You can pick your file format. I chose mp3s at 192 kbits. Within an hour I had 70 new songs up and running on my Ipod for about nine bucks.

"Is this legal?" is the number one question asked about this service. My answer is "as far as I can tell." These Russian websites pay royalties to the artists through an organization called the Russian Organization for Media and Digital Systems (ROMS). Within Russia, these websites are fully legal and although they have been up for a long time now, the RIAA has yet to take them down.

I cannot ponder the strange turn of events where Americans have to go to Russia to buy better versions of American music. Who exactly won the cold war? What strange William Gibson world do I live in? I guess I shouldn't care. I got the entire soundtrack of Conan the Barbarian for about a buck.

Here are a few news sources on Russian MP3 websites and the strange legalities of the situation, but instead of worrying about the legalities, go download Pink Floyd's The Wall and enjoy your life instead:

Update: A recent attempt by the Russian District Attourney has failed to stop from continuing to distribute DRM-free music for reasonable prices. It's time for the RIAA monopoly to let go of it's consumer-hurting practices and come up with a business model that gives customers what they want for reasonable prices and without overly restrictive product-harming digital rights protection.

Further Update: Here's a BBC article on Russia's decision not to act against Clue to the RIAA and the conglomerates: it's time for them to try to compete in a fair marketplace instead of blasting everyone with masses of lawyers.