In September 2010, the Mulve music download tool reached the peak of its popularity. Pulling on the resources of VKontakte – Russia’s Facebook equivalent – it provided instant access to millions of high quality tracks from just about every artist imaginable.
But a few days later it was gone. Undoubtedly prompted by IFPI, BPI and the Big Four labels behind them, the British police arrested the owner of the domain. Despite no charges sticking, the operators pulled the plug on the project. What the labels could not do, however, was anything about the source of the music – VKontakte itself.
This problem was exploited during November by a new and altogether more powerful tool. The Mielophone app truly was Mulve on steroids, not only pulling music from more sources but integrating discovery, last.fm, a playlist and download manager, videos, lyrics and more.
But as history repeated itself, on February 16th the person who registered the Mielophone domain name received an email from EMI and Gala Records, which set in motion the death of this fledgling and promising application.
“As you probably know, our company actively protects its copyright and related rights in the territory of the Russian Federation, including via the courts and law enforcement agencies. The Mielophone software which, obviously, is connected to you (in any case, according to the technical information for your domain name) violates the copyright and related rights of EMI / Gala Records,” the email began.
The email then went on to state that the operation of Mielophone constituted a civil breach of Article 146 (Infringement of Copyright and Related Rights), which allows for imprisonment for up to 6 years.
Secondly, and most strangely, EMI and Gala then indicated that the Mielophone operators’ activities constituted a criminal breach of Article 273 – offenses which carry a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment.
Article 273 concerns the “Creation, use and distribution of malicious computer programs” as detailed below.
Creating computer programs or changes to existing programs, which obviously lead to the unauthorized destruction, blocking, modification or copying of information, disruption of computers, computer systems or networks, as well as the use or dissemination of such programs or machine carriers with such programs -shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years with a fine of up to two hundred thousand rubles or the salary or other income for the period up to eighteen months.
The same act which negligently caused grave consequences, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of three to seven years.
However, since EMI and Gala Records are very fine and reasonable people, something they were keen to point out to in their correspondence, the operators of Mielophone were given the opportunity to “close the issue with a peaceful pre-trial procedure”, i.e stop the Mielophone project and end its distribution.
TorrentFreak has learned that the people behind Mielophone wisely tried to seek legal advice but were met with an unhelpful legal profession – specifically when the lawyers they approached learned they would be going up against EMI. So, with little option, Mielophone is no more. The creators have made it very clear that they want to steer clear of legal action and won’t be reviving or revisiting the project.
In the meantime, the Mielophone.air installer remains available via Google Code and the Google search engine. Oh, and VKontakte is still up and doing its thing but they, of course, are easily able to retain lawyers and as such probably don’t respond to scary emails.
But this is the Internet, and it seems that the demise of this software hasn’t gone unnoticed. Already there is another group promising to bring out a new application to replace Mielophone although at this stage we were unable to get a comment from those behind it to find out more. We’ll persevere, investigate and report back in due course.