"A Russian court found the former boss of music download Web site www.allofmp3.com not guilty of breaching copyright on Wednesday in a case considered a crucial test of Russia's commitment to fighting piracy.
The allofmp3.com Web site angered Western music companies by undercutting the price of downloads in deals they said breached copyright law.
"The prosecution did not succeed in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright law," said judge Yekaterina Sharapova...
Kvasov [owner of AllOFMP3.com} always said he was within the law because the site paid part of its income to ROMS, a Russian organisation which collects and distributes fees for copyright holders.
The judge agreed with his defence.
"Everybody who uses soundtracks has to pay a certain amount of their income to the rights holders and this company has done that," she said. "MediaServices has paid a certain amount of money to ROMS."
Any Russian copyright experts out there care to comment?
And how far if at all does this affect the liability of those who download tracks in the UK from AllOfMP3.com's successor site www.mp3sparks.com in Russia? Rome II, which was recently finalised, indicates that in a transnational tort, the governing law is "the law of the country in which the damage occurs or is likely to occur , irrespective of the country in which the event giving rise to the damage occurred" (Art 4) .
Unfortunately this relatively clear provision is not the one that applies - instead Art 8 provides that the governing law in the case of non-Community-wide IP rights is instead " the law of the Member State in which the act of infringement is committed". Which is um, as clear as mud. The recitals however confirm that this is intended to mean the traditional IP IPL standard of the lex loci protectionis. "Traditionally in Private international law, disputes concerning national IP rights are governed by the lex loci protectionis. That is the law of the country where protection is sought. Where there is an infringement, this law coincides which the law of the country where the acts of infringement were committed." (stolen from the helpful IP-Kat.) Pangloss is still uncertain what that means that if a work in which UK copyright exists (eg a Kaiser chiefs song) is downloaded from a Russian server to a UK PC. One assumes it means that if the case is raised in UK courts, UK copyright law is applied hence there is still an unauthorised copy made and hence infringement.
So despite this court case, the answer "oh it's OK but it's legal in Russia!" appears to remain somewhere between a red herring and a red rag to a BPI bull :)