Russia enacts new copyright laws to fight piracy

October 2006

Record labels, internet

The Russian parliament has enacted a tough new copyright law designed to crack down on the Internet piracy of text, music and videos. The new law which took effect at the end of August is part of Russia’s bid to comply with World Trade Organisation conditions – music piracy is rife in Russia, with hard copy piracy possibly running at 90% of all sales. The Russian parliament originally approved the amendment to Russia’s existing copyright protection law in July 2004; it granted website operators that distribute copyright protected content two years to acquire licenses to distribute their MP3 files. The United States has cited notoriously lax protections for intellectual property as the major reason for refusing to endorse Russia’s entry into the WTO. The Russian business daily Kommersant claims that 97 percent of music files exchanged online are illegal with just $1 million of sales reported against estimates of real sales of $25-30 million each year. The new law threatens to sentence violators to up to five years in jail.

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