Noose tightens around allofmp3.com

The recording industry has stepped up its battle to shut down allofmp3.com, announcing the arrest of a man who allegedly sold vouchers used to make purchases at the controversial online music store.

U.K. police arrested the 25-year-old man in Bow, East London, earlier this month, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said on Monday. He allegedly sold the vouchers through auction sites such as eBay and sent the money to off-shore accounts operated by the site’s owners, according to the IFPI.

The music industry has been battling hard to shut down the Russian website, which it accuses of selling cut-rate music without paying royalties to artists or music labels.

The labels hope to run the site out of business by eliminating the ways it can collect payments from customers. Paypal, Visa and Mastercard have already stopped accepting payments at the site, according to the IFPI, and closing the voucher operation is the latest step in that strategy.

The U.K. man, who was not identified, was the first person to be arrested for copyright infringement under Section 2 of the U.K.’s 2006 Fraud Act, a new law enacted in January to fight online fraud, the IFPI said. He was arrested at a private address where police also seized computers and paperwork.

The IFPI called the arrest “a significant step in the demise of the Russian illegal music website” as “payment options run dry and the law closes in.” The vouchers operation may have netted “tens of thousands of pounds” for the website’s owners, the IFPI said.

The vouchers were priced at £10 (US$20) each and were also sold at allofmp3vouchers.co.uk. They included an access code that people entered at the online store to make purchases.

Traffic to allofmp3.com has been declining, the IFPI said, although shutting it down has been a lengthy process involving legal actions in several countries.

The music industry has secured an inunction against the website in Germany, and ISPs have been ordered to block access to it in Denmark. The Italian site allofmp3.it has been shut down, and legal actions are under way in Russia, the U.S., France and the U.K., the IFPI said.

Allofmp3.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The website has said it believes it is legal in Russia and has posted a FAQ about its legality.

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