Your Questions: Are Russian MP3 Download Sites Legal?

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Last updated 4 April, 2018

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One of the Russian MP3 sites whose prices are around a tenth of those in the West.
One of the Russian MP3 sites whose prices are around a tenth of those in the West.

Digital DJ Tips reader and DJ Tony O’Sullivan writes: “Can you let me know if those non-US MP3 store sites are genuine sites and not scams? They sell individual MP3s as low as US$0.09 a track, which seems too good to be true. While the site I looked at is well presented, seems to be well stocked and looks bona fide, I find the prices to be hard to believe. What do you think? Are they legal to buy from?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

We removed the site’s name from your letter as we don’t condone undercutting artists via this sort of loophole, but I think we all know the kinds of sites you mean. They tend to be hosted in Russia, where they’re technically legal due to a loophole (although the legality of them has see-sawed, and you can’t pay but Visa etc, so make of that what you will). In Russia you can buy a license to operate such a site without paying the labels directly. A cent or two does apparently make its way indirectly back to the record label in some way for each purchase but I can’t imagine the labels are very happy about the arrangement.

I found a good discussion of it on this website – but morally, I think you should buy from a reputable site to ensure that the artist therefore gets a fair price for the music – especially as paying under US$1 for a tune in a “proper” store is not exactly extortionate.

Have you ever used Russian MP3 sites to buy music at a tenth of the price of elsewhere? What are your views on the morals of this? Can you shed more light on this subject? Please let us know in the comments.

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