Thursday, March 29, 2007

Death Watch: That Russian music download site

As regular readers know, this death watcher has been keeping close tabs on the agonizing demise of a certain Russian Itunes alternative which has given so much cut-rate musical joy to so many.

When I last checked the besieged site was down to only accepting Diners Club for payment -- and unfortunately not the kind of Diners Club card you could sign up for in the United States. Now they aren't even accepting that.

But before you take out the funeral drums for this soldier in the fight for the wanton theft of intellectual property, consider the following shift in the geopolitical landscape:

Recently Russia halted work on the controversial Iranian nuclear power plants the oil-rich Islamic Republic claims need to built for domestic energy purposes.

The reason for the work stoppage was, ostensibly, because Iran hadn't been paying the Russians on time. And while that may have been part of the story, I've heard (and yes, like any good death watcher, I have my very own back channels) that the Western powers are using admission to the World Trade Organization as the carrot to encourage Russia to give Iran the stick on the "power plants."

So far one of the main obstacles to Russia's admission into the WTO is what member countries see as Russia's lax enforcement of piracy and counterfeiting laws. For example, the continued existence of a certain Russian music download site -- although there is certainly a strong argument its format isn't actual piracy.

Now that the Iranians have snatched a bunch of British Marines, like they promised they would, and are parading the hostages all over TV, the Western powers need Moscow's influence in Tehran more than ever.

Does this mean the WTO drops their anti-piracy concerns and admits Russia as is?

I don't know. But I do think the longer England suffers the indignity -- on the 25th anniversary of the glorious Falkland Island War, no less -- of having their troops held by a third rate military power, the better the chance music fans will soon be back to being able to download songs for really cheap.

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