MP3 panda, is it legal/safe?

here's the site: www.mp3panda.com

It's based in russia. My friend swears by it, but I don't know how safe it is, or if it's legal. Basically, you pay for credit in set amounts (like $20 ,30) and use the credit to buy songs and albums. Albums cost around $1.50, so you can see how attractive that would be. However, I was always suspicious of it's legality. Having tried to read their legal page, as near as I can tell, it's legal in Russia, but they make no promises about other jurisdictions.

So, is there anyone who has tried it. Is it legal here in the US, and is it safe?

I looked at their legal disclaimer and checked Google and, although I'm not a lawyer, I'd say no -- it references "international law and the laws of one's home country" and that you buy them to use for your use only. It does not need the DRM, which means you're not getting the licensed version, which would make it legal in the US.

In the US you can't buy an album for $1.50 legally - it's that simple.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong on this, but I don't think I am. It also sounds risky to be establishing a prepaid account if this really does originate from Russia.

Strictly my opinion, but I wouldn't use this service. The people who produce and market the music have the rights to profit from their efforts, and our US copyright laws guarantee that right.

[quote="challam2010, post:2, topic:213040"]
I looked at their legal disclaimer and checked Google and, although I'm not a lawyer, I'd say no -- it references "international law and the laws of one's home country" and that you buy them to use for your use only. It does not need the DRM, which means you're not getting the licensed version, which would make it legal in the US.

In the US you can't buy an album for $1.50 legally - it's that simple.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong on this, but I don't think I am. It also sounds risky to be establishing a prepaid account if this really does originate from Russia.

Strictly my opinion, but I wouldn't use this service. The people who produce and market the music have the rights to profit from their efforts, and our US copyright laws guarantee that right.

[/quote]

I also looked at their legal disclaimer, and it looks like it's risky not because it's illegal or that it's theft (how can you "steal" something you're paying for?), but that personal payment info would be with people you don't know. Incidentally, the retail price of an album in the U.S is NOT necessarily always going to be the same as it is other countries. If that were the case, anyone who bought a CD or Region 2,3, etc. DVD when traveling overseas would have it seized by customs.

Also: DRM is dreadful and makes transferring mp3's a pain in the neck, so non-DRM is always preferable. Otherwise, you have to burn it to CD to get rid of the DRM, then transfer it to whatever device you want to. The fact that iTunes, Rhapsody, etc., now offer non-DRM downloads is evidence of DRM's declining popularity.

Whether or not Russian sites like this are legal is a gray area. There’s a lot of legal scholarship on the issue (I just perused some of it; and yes, I am a lawyer). Basically, it looks like the Russian sites can sell them for this cheap because they pay the artist little to no royalties. There is a massive gap between the Western copyright system (which strongly protects artists’ rights) and Russian copyright (which does not, stemming from communism).

To me, the real question is: do you care that the artists are not being compensated when you make these purchases? If not, then to me the logical question to ask yourself is: why give a Russian site $1.50 for copies of the music? You could just go out to the free download sites and download them. It’s the same result: you get the music, the artist gets nothing.

Personally, I would never do either, because I consider both morally wrong (plus I have many friends in the music business and I see firsthand how it hurts them), but if someone has made the mental leap to not caring about the artists - and I know many, many people have - then it’s logical to me that there’s no need to give the Russian sites money.

If you want to look at the scholarship yourself, go to Google Scholar and search for the article “Thieves In Cyberspace: Examining Music Piracy And Copyright Law Deficiencies In Russia As It Enters The Digital Age” as a starting point. I could point out others if desired.

When the person selling it doesn’t have the legal right to do so. OK, maybe that’s more receiving stolen property (the seller stole it so that you could buy it) than it is stealing outright, but the concept is the same. Paying for something does not, by itself, guarantee that it’s moral or right.

I figured as much. Nobody has addressed the safety concerns yet, but I'm sure it's iffy. My friend runs linux, so he may not notice all the junk he may be getting along with his music.

Got some evidence that it’s more likely “no” than “little”. My favorite Christian band (Theocracy) just posted this in their forums, in response to a question about mp3panda:

“The band isn’t receiving any payments from this site, or any other for that matter, for these digital downloads. My guess is they bought a CD and ripped the files or got them from a file sharing site. Either way, it’s copyright infringement because they aren’t licensed.”

Stick to what's safe (iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster). You could report this site, but I don't know who to report to other than the artists or record companies.

It's a bit frustratinig when you find a site that offers the mp3 at a price that you can't find on sites like iTunes (especially if you only want that one song....).

I would be careful also for viruses from these questionable sites.

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