May 01, 2007

Coming Clean

Spurred by its desire to join the WTO, the government is cracking down on copyright thieves with new laws and enforcement actions. Unlike past Potemkin-village initiatives, this one seems to be for real. 

Just one in six DVDs sold in Russia is a legal copy, according to Russia’s Antipiracy Organization. And 83 percent of software was counterfeit in 2006, down 4 percent from 2005, according to the U.S.-based Intellectual Property Alliance. IPA’s report ranked Russia as the world’s second biggest counterfeiter after China, saying Russian pirates have caused U.S. companies $1.43 billion in lost sales. Russian music download sites, such as AllofMP3, have long angered the western music industry.

In recent months, Vedomosti reported, police raided many insurance and travel companies to check for pirated software, with raids of other types of businesses in the offing. Guilty businesses have been charged with copyright infringement and their computers – often containing vital operational information – have been confiscated as evidence.

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