Police dawn raid stops allofmp3.com pirate vouchers scheme
London, 21st May 2007
Police have raided and shut down an online voucher system allegedly used by the illegal Russian music download website allofmp3.com to try and sidestep the removal of legitimate payment services in the UK and Europe.
The action follows a pan-European investigation, conducted by global recording industry body IFPI and UK record companies' association the BPI, which led to the arrest of a 25-year-old male in Bow, London.
The individual was allegedly the UK-based European agent for allofmp3.com, facilitating the sale of digital downloads by advertising and selling vouchers through auction sites such as eBay and the website allofmp3vouchers.co.uk. That website has now been taken down from the internet. The vouchers contained a code that allowed UK and European consumers to access and download music illegally from the allofmp3.com website.
Charging £10 per voucher, the suspect was believed to be taking payment from European customers and transferring the cash into various offshore accounts operated by the site's Russian owners.
Metropolitan Police officers seized computer equipment and paperwork for further investigation. Early indications suggest the pirate operation may have generated criminal proceeds for the Russian website running into tens of thousands of pounds.
As the unlicensed sale of music is a criminal offence in the UK, police executed the raid under Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 - legislation introduced into UK law in January 2007 specifically to combat online fraud. This is the first time the new fraud legislation has been used in a copyright-related case.
Illegal website faces demise as payment options run dry and law closes in
The raids, which took place earlier this month, are the latest blow for the illegal website, once described as the UK’s second most popular digital music site after iTunes.
Despite false claims by the site that it pays record companies and artists, it has no permission from record companies to sell downloads in the UK and has been illegally undercutting legitimate services such as iTunes, Napster 2.0 and HMV Digital by not compensating the artists and record companies concerned.
Online payment companies such as PayPal and major credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa have all withdrawn their payment facilities from allofmp3.com because of its flagrant infringement of copyright.
Its popularity has since fallen, and it is now rated outside the top 2000 websites, according to net ratings website alexa.com.
The site also faces a raft of legal actions against it by the music industry internationally with ongoing criminal proceedings in Russia and civil claims in the US and France in addition to action in the UK by the BPI.
Already there has been a court injunction against the site in Germany, and the shutdown and criminal investigation of the portal allofmp3.it in Italy. A court order requiring ISPs to block access to allofmp3.com is already in place in Denmark.
BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said:
"Allofmp3.com is an illegal download service and the decision by major credit cards and payment services no longer to support it amply demonstrates that fact.
"British music fans should beware of voucher schemes like this one that seek to prop up an illegal service that rips off artists.
"This criminal investigation demonstrates that trying to profit from the illegal distribution of music online is an offence with serious consequences."
John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of IFPI, says:
“Allofmp3.com is illegal in Russia, the US, the UK and everywhere else in the world. The action announced today is the latest to highlight Allofmp3.com’s long and undistinguished history of stealing music from artists, composers and record producers and selling it at a profit."
NOTES TO EDITORS
IFPI is the organisation that promotes the interests of the international recording industry worldwide. Its membership comprises some 1,400 major and independent companies in more than 70 countries. It also has affiliated industry national groups in 48 countries. IFPI’s mission is to: