Russian collection society fraud deepens
Criminal Law / March 2017

CRIMINAL Collection societies   Russian collecting society RAO has begun to uncover the extent of the frauds it has suffered following various accusations of embezzlement, one of which resulted in former General Director Sergei Fedotov being placed in custody. He is accused of funnelling over 500 million rubles (£6.9 million) out of the organisation during his time in charge. Authors’ rights collecting society RAO initially defended Fedotov, but new General Director Maksim Dmitriev said that an audit of the years 2014 to 2016 had uncovered 228 million rubles (£3.1 million) of suspicious activity in the last year alone, including the “transfer of funds on spurious grounds and overstating expenses”. It should be noted that the largest of these payments was taken out in the second half of last year, after Fedotov’s arrest. The fraud(s) have contributed to growing losses at the collecting society – an average of 200 million rubles (£2.75 million) have seeemingly been removed annually by the end of 2015, which in turn meant that RAO has not been able to pay songwriters and publishers the royalties they are due.  Dmirriev said “By the end of 2015 RAO had an impossible obligation to songwriters to the total amount of 2.8 billion…

Russia proposes a ‘super’ EEU collection society
Copyright / March 2017

COPYRIGHT Collection societies   Billboard reports that the Russian government has proposed that there should be one collective licensing body across the Eurasian Economic Union. Russia’s government is still deciding whether or not the government should take over collective licensing in the country after a number of scandals, setting up a new agency that would combine RAO (which is the collection society for authors’ rights), VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. Russia’s culture ministry has now reportedly suggested a multi-territory licensing body could be set up as part of the Eurasian Economic Union. According to Billboard, the Russian culture ministry has proposed that that new government-led rights body could also handle collective licensing in other countries that are part of the Eurasian Economic Union, which are the former Soviet states Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Russia The culture ministry has suggested that the multi-territory rights body could “combine national collecting societies and develop uniform standards for their operation, management and control over their observance”. The latter proposal – ie an EEU body regulating collective licensing – would have some parallels with the regulation…

French songwriter arrested in plagiarism row
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2017

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   A French musician and his Russian lawyer have spent a night in a Moscow police station after a Russian pop star accused them of attempting to extorting one million euros from him in a plagiarism row. Didier Marouani, who first came to tour in the Soviet Union in 1983, and his lawyer Igor Trunov were detained at a bank where they said they were to sign an out-of-court settlement with Filipp Kirkorov, one of Russia’s biggest pop star. Marouani claims one of Kirkorov’s songs, “Cruel Love,” contains music he wrote many years before. Both were released. Kirkorov  told the LifeNews website that there was no agreement to settle the dispute out of court and that he was “forced” to contact the police after Marouani began to attempt extort money from him. 63-year old Marouani, who was one of the rare Western musicians to perform in the Soviet Union before perestroika, denied the accusations saying “I have been coming to Russia for 33 years ….. and now I’m saying for the first time that my song was stolen, and music experts agree with me.” A civil case appears to be progressing in the Moscow City Court and no charges appear to…

Russian Government looks to take over collection societies

COMPETITION Music publishing, recorded music   The Russian government is reportedly considering taking over some or all of the collective licensing regime in the country. The move comes in the wake of accusations of fraud  which have seen RAO General Director Sergei Fedotov arrested and jailed. There has been disagreement within the collecting society’s membership, with a group of members calling for a new  General Director to be appointed and a radical overhaul of the organisation’s constitution. According to Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, the Ministry Of Economic Development is considering the possibility of taking direct control of RAO. The RAO Authors’ Council, which is the main governing body of the society, continues to back Fedotov and responded angrily to the members seeking a radical overhaul. Producer and composer Igor Matvienko, newly elected as President of the Authors’ Council last month, had been critical of RAO but now opposes moves to overthrow Fedotov and the current management.   whilst there have been some dark mutterings in Europe from songwriters and self composing performers about the activities of CMOs, including Buma-Stemra and GEMA, who have been offering established concert promoters ‘discounts’ or ‘kickbacks’  on published public performance tariffs – and indeed in Spain the…

Russian collection society chief arrested on fraud charges
Criminal Law / August 2016

CRIMINAL LAW Collective Management   Sergei Fedotov, head of the Russian author’s rights collecting society RAO, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.  Russian news service RIA Novosti said that Fedotov has been accused of funnelling assets worth of over ₽500 million rubles ($7.7 million) out of the organisation. RAO’s office and Fedotov’s home were searched by police on June 27th after which Fedotov was brought in for questioning. On June 28, The Tagansky court in Moscow sanctioned Fedotov’s arrest, rejecting his lawyer’s plea for bail. RAO issued a statement saying: “RAO’s general director Sergei Fedotov and the organization’s other employees are fully cooperating with the investigation, helping it to find out the truth” adding “We are sure that a qualified investigation will lead to establishing no wrongdoing in Sergei Fedotov’s action.” The move comes AFTER rumours of corruption involving real estate surfaced in the wake of the 2015 announcement that RAO would merge with two other collecting societies, VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. That merger was seemingly supported by the country’s communications ministry but VOIS objected. This time Nikolai Nikiforov, the communications minister, was quoted by RIA…

Russian collection society chief arrested on fraud charges

CRIMINAL LAW Music publishing, recorded music   Sergei Fedotov, head of the Russian author’s rights collecting society RAO, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.  Russian news service RIA Novosti said that Fedotov has been accused of funnelling assets worth of over ₽500 million rubles ($7.7 million) out of the organisation. RAO’s office and Fedotov’s home were searched by police on June 27th after which Fedotov was brought in for questioning. On June 28, The Tagansky court in Moscow sanctioned Fedotov’s arrest, rejecting his lawyer’s plea for bail. RAO issued a statement saying: “RAO’s general director Sergei Fedotov and the organization’s other employees are fully cooperating with the investigation, helping it to find out the truth” adding “We are sure that a qualified investigation will lead to establishing no wrongdoing in Sergei Fedotov’s action.” The move comes AFTER rumours of corruption involving real estate surfaced in the wake of the 2015 announcement that RAO would merge with two other collecting societies, VOIS, which deals with neighbouring rights, and RSP, which collects a one-percent tax on imports of electronic devices that can be used for copying content. That merger was seemingly supported by the country’s communications ministry but VOIS objected. This time Nikolai Nikiforov, the communications minister, was quoted…

Russian legislators shy away from live industry regulation – for now
Consumers , Licensing , Live Events / March 2016

CONSUMER / LICENSING Live events sector     Billboard reports that Russian legislators have backed down from new regulations proposed for the live industry following criticism from a number of high-profile artists. Two months ago, legislators embraced a proposal from several major promoters and producers for a self regulating organisation of promoters. However a number of music producers and promoters behind the initiative said there is still a need for reform in the segment. “Ideas are proposed to be discussed,” Iosif Prigozhin, a prominent producer who was among the original proponents of the new regulations, told Billboard. “And regulations should be adopted in such a form that they will satisfy everyone.” “But the industry still needs some reforms and adjustment,” he went on to say, adding that the proposed regulations were not aimed at hurting artists but were expected to clean the segment of unscrupulous and unprofessional players. In January 2016 in anticipation of the new regulations,  a new organisation Soyukontsert was formed. Founder members include SAV Entertainment, PMI and NCA. At the time Soyukonsert saidf iyt would   – Create  an emergency fund to cover expenses for cancelled shows – Form a disciplinary commission that will assess professional standards for the live sector…

Music promoters form new self regulating body in Russia
Licensing , Live Events / January 2016

LICENSING Live events sector   In response to new legislation in Russia, promoters have combined to form a self-monitoring organisation with the aim of improving the sector’s operations. The new organisation is named “Soyukontsert” and founder members include SAV Entertainment, PMI and NCA. The proposed new regulations outline greater responsibility for promoters around customer care and will make the industry more professional and efficient, reports Billboard.   Amongst it’s activities Soyukonsert will   – Create  an emergency fund to cover expenses for cancelled shows – Form a disciplinary commission that will assess professional standards for the live sector   – Liaise with local authorities to avoid cancellations of show   “The creation of a self-regulating organization is a natural step as the live entertainment industry moves towards greater professionalism,” said Dmitry Bogachev, head of Stage Entertainment. “Similar professional organisations exist in many countries. And, similarly to them, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to formal regulation of relations with consumers.”   Legislators are expected to adopt the new regulations early in 2016.   http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/touring/6812741/russian-live-industry-looks-to-band-together-and-self-regulate

Russia’s Culture Ministry proposes collection society reforms
Copyright , Music Publishing / December 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing, recorded music     Russia’s culture ministry has made a series of proposals aimed at improving the way collection societies operate in the country, although the societies say the proposals are unfeasible. According to the ministry’s proposals, collection societies would have to pay at least 75 percent of all collected money to rights holders, with the remaining 25 percent spent on operation costs and other uses. The proposals also stipulate that collecting societies must provide rights holders’ access to their records, including data on collected and paid royalties. The ministry’s proposals are apparently aimed at increasing the transparency of collecting societies’ operations, and stepping up payments to rights holders.  Artemy Karpychev, deputy general director of RAO, the state-approved authors’ rights collecting society, tells Billboard that whilst the proposals might seem ‘excellent’, there would be substantial obstacles in implementing them saying:  “The 75-percent figure is what we already have, on average,” he said. “But if it has to be applied to every type of authors’ rights separately, for some of them, collection will have to be stopped. Take, for instance, collecting public performance royalties from restaurants and cafes,” he explained. “Transaction expenses for that type of collection are very high.” And…

Russian court orders VK to implement effective technology to block illegal uploads
Copyright , Internet / October 2015

COPYRIGHT Internet, recorded music     Russian social network vKontakte (VK) has been ordered by a Russian court to use effective technology to prevent copyright infringement of the recordings of two record companies.   The IFPI say that the ruling, handed down in the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court on Monday, is a significant judgment which, when implemented, should improve the environment for developing a thriving licensed music business in Russia. The IFPI is the organisation that represents the global recording industry.  It was supported by the Russian National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI).   Universal Music and Warner Music had brought copyright infringement cases against VK in April 2014.  The judge issued an oral decision on 28th September, and the full judgments will be handed down in due course.   The court granted the record companies’ request to require VK to use effective technology to prevent the upload of their sound recordings to its service, meaning that VK must remove the record companies’ recordings and prevent them from being uploaded again in the future. The claimaints said 98% of their sound trecordings featuring in the Top 40 UK chart from the past seven years are available on…

Cannibal Corpse face Russian ban
Censorship , Live Events / January 2015

CENSORSHIP Live events sector   After a number of shows on Cannibal Corpse’s recent Russian tour were cancelled by local authorities, shortly before or, in one case, during their performance, one of the cities that took against the US death metal band has now banned all of their album artwork and translations of their lyrics. A district court in the city of Ufa last week ruled in favour of a complaint brought by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bashkortostan on the grounds that (according to news agency Rapsi) “Lyrics by the band Cannibal Corpse could damage the mental health of children because they contain descriptions of violence, the physical and mental abuse of people and animals, murder and suicide – all accompanied by illustrations”. Several shows on the band’s tour of Russia earlier this year were pulled by the authorities, though none on the grounds cited in the lawsuit. In a statement at the time, the band said: “In Ufa the power was turned off shortly before the show (we were told because the venue was late on rent), and in Moscow and St Petersburg we were told that we did not have the correct visas and that if we attempted…

Russia enacts law against profanity in the arts
Artists , Censorship / September 2014

CENSORSHIP Artistes, broadcasting, theatre   Russia has enacted new laws targeting publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theatre prompting fears that the new provisions may be used to target free speech. The new law provides for fines of up $1,400, however for works which may include profanities and words deemed inappropriate. However some say the new law will promote culture: Moscow State University History Professor Anna Kuzmina reportedly said the law will help promote a better artistic culture, telling VOA “My personal opinion, and I support this law, is that profane language has almost become the norm and even has acquired a certain charm. Frequently, people do not take the trouble of finding the words, but speak emotionally expressing themselves with five or six, four-letter words”. The profanity law also bans the public showing of films with swear words and forces music and books to have warning labels. Many see the law as part of a conservative movement to shape Russia’s youth into a more nationalistic culture distinct from the liberal West. http://www.voanews.com/content/artists-shun-russia-profanity-law/2425474.html

Russia’s Supreme Court critical of Pussy Riot ruling
Artists , Criminal Law / January 2014

CRIMINAL Artists Russia’s Supreme Court has criticised the guilty verdicts in the Pussy Riot case and ordered a review of the ruling that convicted three members of the punk protest group of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after the band staged a provocative performance that criticised the Russian government  in a Moscow cathedral in August 2012 Two of the three, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were jailed. The Supreme Court has now said that the prosecution in the case failed to demonstrate that the defendants were motivated by hatred towards a specific social group, which, appeal judges said last week, is necessary for this ruling. The Supreme Court added that judges in the lower court should also have considered that Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were mothers with young children when sentencing them. The ruling comes alongside the recently announced amnesty bill’ y put forward to the country’s parliament by premier Vladimir Putin, which aims to show leniency on the twentieth anniversary of the Russian Constitution (and remove embarrassing Russian court rulings before next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia) could also lead to the Pussy Riot two being freed early although with just three months left to run on both protestors’ sentences,…

Pussy riot pair freed by new Russian amnesty laws
Artists , Criminal Law / January 2014

CRIMINAL Artists   Russia’s state Duma has unanimously agreed to a new ‘amnesty’ law which proposed by president Vladimir Putin to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution. The amnesty bill looks to free prisoners who have been jailed for certain non-violent crimes, women with dependent children, juveniles, veterans, invalids and first time offenders and is likely to include the 30 Greenpeace crew and journalists from the Arctic Sunrise, currently on bail on charges of hooliganism in Russia after boarding a drilling rig. The bill specifically included the charge of hooliganism, which was used to prosecute 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists, among them six Britons, over a protest at Russia’s first offshore oil platform in the Arctic. The 30 will still need exit visas to leave Russia. Others who may be freed include some, but not all, of the political protesters arrested during clashes with police after Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as Russian president for a third term last year. The ruling prompted the release of the two members of Pussy Riot, jailed for religious hooliganism.  Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were each sentenced to two years in prison after the band staged a provocative performance that criticised the…

Pussy Riot pair lodge appeal at Russia’s Supreme Court
Criminal Law / August 2013

CRIMINAL LAW Artistes   Lawyers for the two members of Pussy Riot jailed for their involvement in a protest performance in a Russian cathedral are set to take the case to Russia’s Supreme Court. Originally three members of the Russian punk outfit were jailed last August for taking part in the performance of a protest song in a Moscow church. One of the jailed women, Yekaterina Samustsev, was given a suspended sentence on appeal and freed, but Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova remained incarcerated after the appeal hearing in Gulags. More recently both were denied parole. Lawyers hope to argue in the Russian Supreme Court that the ruling that members of Pussy Riot were guilty of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ was in fact illegal, and the convictions should be reversed.   http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1569241/pussy-riot-members-to-appeal-conviction-to-russias-supreme-court

ProMusic website re-launched
Copyright , Internet / November 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet   IFPI, the organisation representing the international recorded music industry worldwide, has welcomed the latest in a series of rulings by Russian courts against Kontakte, the country’s leading social networking site that facilitates the mass distribution of copyright infringing music. The Arbitration Court of St Petersburg and Leningrad ordered vKontakte to pay damages of 550,000 roubles (€13,718) to SBA Gala Records, an independent Russian record label and licensed distributor for EMI Music’s international repertoire, for its role in facilitating the illegal distribution of 11 unlicensed sound recordings online.  vKontakte enables any user to upload files containing copyright infringing music to its social networking platform, then offers its other users the opportunity to search for the tracks and the ability to stream them, and download them using apps and browser extensions. It is Russia’s most popular online entertainment platform with more than 110 million registered users and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world. The IFPI have also announced the re-launch of the newly redesigned www.pro-music.org website – a simple information resource for anyone looking to find out more about legitimate digital music services and copyright law across the world. First launched in 2003, Pro-Music was created by…

One member of Pussy Riot freed
Censorship / November 2012

CENSORSHIP All areas   Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich (30) has been released from prison after her two year prison term for a conviction of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal yesterday.  Judge Larisa Polyakova accepted that Samutsevich, who had been prevented by guards from reaching the alter at Christ The Saviour Cathedral on February 21st, had not actual taken part in the protest, although she had intended to. However, at the same appeal hearing her fellow band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22) and Maria Alyokhina (24) had their original sentences upheld and therefore will remain in prison, pending further appeals and have now been transferred to two separate labour camps (gulags). Both continue to argue that their protests against Vladimir Putin were political and not religious. In an interview marking his 60th birthday, Putin told state-run TV channel NTV that the three women “got what they asked for” adding “It was right that they were arrested, and the court’s decision was right”. Russian Orthodox church members, whose leader had been visible supporters of Putin, were initially enraged by the band’s actions bur whilst the Church hierarchy said the women’s action “cannot be left…

Pussy Riot trio found guilty
Artists , Censorship / September 2012

CENSORSHIP Artistes   Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred at the conclusion of their widely reported trial in Moscow for  performing a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin on the altar of the Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour Of The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. All three pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.  Paul McCartney has now joined artistes including Madonna, Rufus Wainwright and Bjork in supporting the three saying “I’m writing to show my support for you at this difficult time. I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest. Many people in the civilised world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies. I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power…

Anti-Putin Pussy Riot members sent back to prison “in act of political repression”
Censorship / August 2012

CENSORSHIP All areas   Back in February our news pages reported that all four members of Russian female punk rock quartet Pussy Riot had been arrested after performing ‘Putin has Pissed himself’ in Red Square and then on the 27th March we reported that three of the feminist punks were in more trouble – after an unsanctioned performance of their punk prayer “Virgin Mary Mother of God Expel Putin!” in Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral of Christ The Saviour. Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a public supporter of President Putin, said the band do the “devils work” and state television denounced the women’s actions as “disgusting”. Rather alarmingly three members of ten members plus collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23), Yekaterina Samutsevich (19) and Maria Alehina (24), remain in prison on charges of aggravated hooliganism which could eventually mean a seven-year sentence. They deny being the mask clad figures at the cathedral but were denied bail at a early July hearing by Judge Marina Syrova in the Khamovnichesky District Court and having been in prison for five months already, now face for six more months in custody while the trial progresses although the trial is scheduled to begin on July 30th….

IFPI welcomes Russian ruling on unlicensed streaming platform
Copyright , Internet / March 2012

COPYRIGHT Internet The IFPI has welcomed what it calls a “landmark ruling” by a Russian court that internet company vKontakte’s music service is liable for copyright infringement. The commercial (“Arbitrazh”) Court of Saint Petersburg ruled that the social networking site with an unlicensed music service is illegally offering unlicensed music to its users. vKontakte is Russia’s most popular online entertainment platform. It has over 110 million registered users and over 33 million users per day, and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world. The case against vKontakte was brought by SBA Publishing and SBA Production, members of the Gala Music Group in Russia. The cases were based on vKontakte making Gala’s music compositions and sound recordings available without licensing agreements. The unlicensed vKontakte music service allows streaming of music from an extensive catalogue of Russian and international sound recordings and encourages software developers to create apps for illegal downloading of content via vKontakte. The IFPI says that several further cases are pending. Reacting to the judgment, IFPI CEO, Frances Moore, said: “This is a very important ruling for Russia. It shows that sites like vKontakte cannot build a business on making music available without licences…

Updates on copyright law
Copyright / March 2011

COPYRIGHT All areas A new survey in the US commissioned by NBC Universal shows that 23.8% of global Internet traffic involves “digital theft,” with the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol accounting for 11.4% of this figure. Brand and trademark monitoring firm Envisional’s analysis of the top 10,000 peer-to-peer swarms found that 99.24% of non-pornographic material being traded was copyrighted material. It also found that “infringing cyberlocker sites” accounted for 5.1% of global Internet traffic, while “infringing video streaming sites” made up 1.4% of global traffic. Nearly 100,000 North Americans have been sued for suspected copyright infringement on file-sharing networks over the past twelve months according to details of a study published by TorrentFreak. Again the majority are alleged to have utilised BitTorrent, although some users of eDonkey were also targeted. Chinese officials say they have arrested 4,000 people in relation to 2,000 separate cases of intellectual property infringement since last November. Gao Feng, Deputy Director of China’s Ministry Of Public Security’s Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau confirmed that the Chinese government had stepped up its efforts to fight commercial piracy operations. The USA estimates that US IP industries alone lose $3.5 billion a year to Chinese piracy. It also appears that Google has responded pressure from…

118 dead in Russian nightclub blaze
Health & Safety , Live Events / January 2010

HEALTH AND SAFETY Live event industry At least 118 revellers have been confirmed as dead after a nightclub fire in Perm, Russia. The fire, which was apparently started by pyrotechnic fountains let off inside the Lame Horse nightclub, seems to have ignited the ceiling and amateur video footage shows patrons rushing to escape the blaze in thick smoke with panicked clubbers crushing each other to death as they tried to flee a fast-moving fire late on Friday 4th Dec. Russian police have arrested four people including the club manager. Officials said most of the dead suffered smoke inhalation or were crushed at the exit with chief prosecutor for the Perm region Marina Zabbarova saying “The fire spread very quickly …. panic arose which led to a mass death of people”. Svetlana Kuvshinova, who was in the nightclub when the blaze broke out, told the AP it started after three fireworks fountains spewed sparks, igniting the plastic ceiling saying “The fire took seconds to spread,” she said. “It was like a dry haystack. There was only one way out. They nearly stampeded me.” Reports also say that the club, which was celebrating its 8th birthday, had only one exit. Russian TV say…

US puts Canada on the naughty step
Copyright / June 2009

COPYRIGHT All areas The US has added Canada to a list of its top twelve of countries which persistently fail to protect intellectual property rights alongside China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela  While there has been much criticism in the past from the US and elsewhere regarding Canada’s copyright laws, and their failure to take on physical bootleggers as well as the ever growing population of online pirates, it is the first time the Americans have put their Northern neighbours on their “priority watch list” of IP abusers. The report from the US Trade Representative that revealed Canada had been added to the watch list noted: “We urge Canada to enact legislation in the near term to strengthen its copyright laws and implement relevant World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties [which Canada signed up to over a decade ago but never incorporated into its copyright laws]. The United States also continues to urge Canada to improve its IP enforcement system to enable authorities to take effective action against the trade in counterfeit and pirated products within Canada, as well as curb the volume of infringing products transshipped and transiting through Canada”. Read more on ‘At…

AllofMP3 director found not guilty of copyright infringement
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / September 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet At the beginning of August proceedings began in the Moscow Cheremushki District Court against Denis Kvasov, the former Director of Mediaservices, which owned the recently closed Allofmp3.com website. He was accused of breaching the copyright and allied rights under Article 146 of the RF Criminal Code by selling music without the copyright holder’s consent Mr. Kvasov pleaded not guilty stating that he did “everything within the law. The maximum sentence for these offences is three years in prison and a fine of 5 million roubles. Much to the dismay of EMI and Universal who brought the claim (and the wider record industry) Mr Kvasov appears to have successfully promoted the defence that his activities were legal pursuant to Section 3, Article 1, Law 39 of the RF enabled the use phonograms without the producer’s permission by paying compensation (in effect a statutory licence although this loop hole was closed in late 2006). Mediaservices claim they made the necessary payments to the copyright holders through Russian Collection Societies and so the activities of AllofMP3 corresponded to existing Russian legislation. Judge Ekaterina Sharapova acquitted Denis Kravsov and ruled that the site operated within the bounds of Russian law….

As ALLOFMP3 finally goes ….. a ‘new’ site opens
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / August 2007

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet AllofMP3, the music download website whose activities threatened to scupper Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has been shut down. The site, Allofmp3.com has shut as the Kremlin sought to end criticism from the United States that Russia was failing to clamp down on music and video piracy and Russia promised to target other Russian sites that distributed copyright material illegally. However, an alternative site run by the same Moscow company has already emerged – mp3Sparks.com and owners MediaServices say it is legal under Russian law, using many of the same arguments advanced in support of allofmp3.com. Allofmp3.com insisted that it was a legitimate business because it paid royalties to a Russian organisation that collected fees for distribution to copyright holders. It argued that it was helping to prevent piracy by offering an alternative to free file-sharing sites. Western music companies refused to accept the fee, arguing that the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society had no right to represent their interests. The site had been under investigation for two years by the Russian Interior Ministry. A bigger blow was struck in January, when Visa and MasterCard told MediaServices that they would no longer process…

Russian Court rules that music download sites are illegal
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / March 2007

COPYRIGHT Internet, record labels A Russian court has fined a company whose Web sites let users download songs for 15 U.S. cents following a lawsuit brought by Gala Records, a Russian subsidiary of EMI. The Moscow Arbitration Court ruled last week in favor of Gala Records, which sued Web sites http://www.delit.ru and http://www.delit.net for illegally selling soundtracks and music albums online without the consent of copyright owners. The court also fined the sites’ parent company, Delit, 60,000 rubles (US$2,300; €1,750). Gala Record heralded the new ruling as a clear indication that “that one cannot distribute someone else’s property on the Internet.” Gala Records produces albums for several well-known Russian pop artists, including Dima Bilan, who came second in last year’s Eurovision song contest. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/14/business/EU-TEC-Russia-Downloading-Music.php

Russia enacts new copyright laws to fight piracy
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / October 2006

COPYRIGHT 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. http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2006/09/russia-implements-tough-illegal.php http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7004724242 and see the excellent article at http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060906-7676.html

Russian court find in favour of labels in piracy case
Copyright , Record Labels / August 2006

COPYRIGHT Record labels The Arbitration Court of the Moscow Region has ruled that Russobit-Soft, a Moscow-based optical disc plant, had manufactured counterfeit CDs by artists including Depeche Mode, Destiny’s Child, Enrique Iglesias, Macy Gray, Michael Jackson, Radiohead, Whitney Houston and Westlife. The company has been ordered to pay four million roubles (US$148,000) in statutory damages. Russobit-Soft will also have to pay compensation for costs, including state duties and experts’ fees in full as well as a substantial proportion of the claimant’s attorney’s fees.  The court also issued an injunction preventing Russobit-Soft from manufacturing any of the 30 albums involved in the case. The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) acting on behalf of record label members filed eight claims against Russobit-Soft in December 2003. www.ifpi.org

AllofMP3.com is illegal says music industry
Copyright , Internet , Record Labels / July 2006

COPYRIGHT Record labels, internet ARTICLE LINK:  A hugely popular seller of music downloads is illegal, according to the music industry, and prosecutions are underway. AllofMP3.com, a Moscow-based service that undercuts iTunes by enormous margins, was accused today of paying nothing to artists. But the website claims everything on the site is licensed by the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (ROMS) and the Rightholders Federation for Collective Copyright Management of Works Used Interactively (FAIR). Site owner MediaServices says that it pays licence fees “subject to the Law of the Russian Federation.” It adds that it is not responsible for the actions of foreign users – though the site is in the English Language! This article is on the Pinsent Mason’s OutLaw website at http://www.out-law.com/page-6956 Also see http://money.independent.co.uk/personal_finance/invest_save/article754352.ece Would a UK court victory help? See further details on this athttp://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/08/allofmp3_lawsuit/ See also the ARTICLE AllofMP3 Running Out of Time? By Eric Bangeman athttp://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060530-6943.html

Russia’s largest CD manufacturer signs accord with IFPI
Copyright , Record Labels / September 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels IFPI and the largest optical disc manufacturer in Russia, the Ural Electronic Plant (UEP), have signed an agreement that aims to help the plant produce only legitimate audio and video discs. The cooperation agreement with IFPI, representing the recording industry worldwide, is the first of its type to be signed by a Russian plant. The IFPI hopes that other optical disc manufacturers in Russia will follow suit. Russia has the world’s second biggest pirate market after China and is a mass exporter of pirate discs originating from the country’s manufacturing plants. The agreement sets the rules that will help the UEP to ensure that products manufactured at the plant are legitimate. Under the agreement, the UEP will inform IFPI about the purchase and installation of any new equipment used to manufacture optical discs. Representatives from IFPI will be given access to the plant to obtain samples of its manufactured products. The UEP will also notify IFPI of any orders where doubts are raised as to their legality and both parties undertake to cooperate to determine the nature of such orders. A key part of the agreement is that the UEP will undertake the necessary actions to enable…

Russian CD plant agrees to pay damages
Copyright , Record Labels / May 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels Russia’s Roff Technologies optical disc plant has agreed a substantial settlement with international recording industry body IFPI and eight member company plaintiffs over the manufacture of counterfeit CDs containing repertoire by major international artists. Settling the case out of court, Roff admitted to having infringed neighbouring rights in the past. The agreement brings to a halt civil court proceedings, which had been brought by IFPI member companies in January 2004. Civil action against CD plants is just one part of the record industry’s strategy in Russia. The industry’s top priority is stronger cooperation from the Russian authorities in the fight against piracy. Specifically, there needs to be effective regulation of the country’s optical disc manufacturing plants; effective investigation and prosecution of pirates by the enforcement agencies; and real deterrent criminal penalties when convicted pirates are sentenced in court. See: http://www.ifpi.org

Recording industry welcomes police investigation of Allofmp3.com but prosecution stalled
Copyright , Record Labels / April 2005

COPYRIGHT Record Labels The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) has welcomed action by the Russian authorities against a Russian website alleged to be offering digital copies of recorded music for sale illegally.Allofmp3.com and its principals are alleged to be involved in large-scale copyright infringement by offering music for sale without authorisation from rights holders in Russia and internationally. Russia is the worlds 12th largest music market with sales of US326.20 million in 2003 but has a piracy rate of 64%. The Computer Crimes unit of Moscow City Police formally passed the results of its criminal investigation to the Moscow City Prosecutor’s office on February 8. IFPI, on behalf of its members, also submitted a formal complaint to the prosecutor’s office in support of further action on the same date. The prosecutor has thirty days from the date of receiving evidence to decide whether to proceed. However it seems that Moscow prosecutors have declined to press criminal charges against the popular Internet site according to Russian news reports, citing “specifics of Russian copyright law”. Source: http://asia.cnet.com/news/personaltech/0,39037091,39220696,00.htm andhttp://www.ifpi.org

Russian Mobile Phone Downloads Violate Copyright Law

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers, Artists, Telecommunications The leader of the popular Russian rock group Leningrad, Sergei Shnurov, has won a case focusing on intellectual property rights violation in Russia by the use of melodies in mobile phone ringtones. The Basmanny Court of Moscow court has ruled that S.B.A. Music Publishing, a subsidiary of the Gala Records company, must pay 100,000 roubles to Sergei Shnurov for violating his intellectual property rights by issuing a permission for mobile phone companies to use Shnurov’s music for mobile phones and karaoke, Gazeta reports. Without the musician’s consent, S.B.A. concluded contracts with companies co-operating with mobile phone operators and gave them the right to adapt compositions of the Leningrad leader for mobile phone melodies. No recording rights were involved as the mobile operators would produce their own ‘recording’ for phone ringtone use. One Russian mobile phone operator, Beeline, alone downloaded $90,000 worth of Shnurov’s songs in early 2000-February 2004. Shnurov estimated his losses at $40,000, but the Basmanny Court found this figure too high and ruled to pay him less. Russian recording companies will now have to be more careful about adapting people’s music. See : http://newsfromrussia.com/main/2004/07/23/55208.html

World Piracy News

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers, Internet Dutch police and the criminal anti-piracy enforcement team of the FIOD-ECD have completed an investigation into organised criminal groups resulting in the seizure of 17,000 pirate CDs and DVDs and the arrest of six people. Over sixty police offers carried out simultaneous raids on different addresses including a CD/DVD plant. A representative of the Indian Music Association was present because over 15,000 of the pirate DVDs seized were in hindi. Other DVDs included pirated copies of Finding Nemo and Lord of The Rings. Greek figures show that over 1.1 million CDs, CDRs and MCs were seized in 2003 under raids organised by the IFPI (an increase of 46.38% on 2002). In addition police sized a further 521,345 units in other raids. In 2003 1,941 individuals were prosecuted in Greece for music piracy offences. In the Ukraine a joint investigation between law enforcement agencies and the IFPI led to a major raid on a illegal warehouse. 210,000 CD and DVD inlays were seized along with more than 26,000 units. The IFPI say that almost all of the pirated material found in the Ukraine, Poland and other eastern European countries originate in Russia and are then ‘packaged’ locally across the eastern block. As Lithuania joins the…

New Offensive Against Illegal CD Production in Russia

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers The international recording industry has begun a new offensive against CD plants in Russia producing unauthorised optical discs that are exported all over the world. The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), representing over 1,500 record companies globally, has filed seven separate claims for damages totalling US$1,366,600 against a CD plant in Russia – the country with the biggest music pirate market in the world after China. These claims are the first of a series of civil proceedings to be taken against optical disc plants in Russia producing unauthorised CDs. The Moscow-based manufacturing plant, Russobit-Soft, is alleged to have manufactured counterfeit CDs by artists including Depeche Mode, Destiny’s Child, Enrique Iglesias, Macy Gray, Michael Jackson, Radiohead, Whitney Houston and Westlife. This is the same plant that, in August of 2003, suffered the suspension of its licence under the CD Plant Licensing Regulations covering audiovisual works and phonograms, although it continues to manufacture discs containing software. The cases are being brought on behalf of Arista Records Inc, BMG UK & Ireland Limited, EMI Music International Services Limited, Mute Records Limited, LLC Sony Music Entertainment (Russia), Sanctuary Records Group Limited and Warner Music Austria GesmbH. The plaintiff…

IFPI Voices Disappointment Over Postponement of Amendments to the Russian Copyright Law

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers The international record industry has expressed its strong disappointment at the Russian Parliament’s decision to postpone adoption of the already long-delayed, critical amendments to the Copyright Law. IFPI Chairman and CEO Jay Berman said: “We are deeply disappointed at the postponement of these amendments which, while not completely comprehensive, are a crucial first step towards bringing Russia into line with international standards of copyright protection. This delay sends worrying signals over Russia’s publicly voiced commitment to tackle its very serious shortcomings in copyright protection and enforcement. Copyright piracy is now at unprecedented levels in the Russian Federation, with far-reaching consequences to its culture, economy and levels of foreign investment.” For a number of years, the industry has been calling on Russia to urgently adopt changes to its Copyright Law to make it compatible with the requirements of the international treaties it wishes to join or those previously signed, in particular the 1996 WIPO Treaties. The long-awaited amendments were aimed at bringing Russia in line with international standards by tackling three crucial reforms to the country’s copyright system: adapting rights to face technological changes brought about by the growth of the Russian internet market; safeguarding international…

GLOBAL SALES OF ILLEGAL CDs TOP 1 BILLION UNITS

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers, Artists, Internet A report published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shows that the illegal music market is now worth $4.6bn (£2.8bn) globally. It believes two out of every five CDs or cassettes sold are illegal. The IFPI said much of this money is going to support organised criminal gangs, dispelling the myth that it is a “victimless crime”. Jay Berman, chairman of the IFPI, said: “This is a major, major commercial activity, involving huge amounts of pirated CDs. The IFPI’s top 10 priority countries where labels want a crackdown on piracy are Brazil, China, Mexico, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Spain, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine. The IFPI also pointed out that when factoring in unlicensed downloads then “only one in three music products in the UK is authorised.” Despite the increase in the amount of CDs illegally produced and sold around the world, up 14% on 2001, there has also been a rise in the amount of CDs and recording equipment seized. The number of discs seized on their way for public sale was more than 50 million, a four-fold rise on the previous year. The IFPI is concerned in two main…

GLOBAL CLAMPDOWN ON PIRACY

COPYRIGHT Record Labels, Music Publishers The PRS/MCPS Alliance have announced a number of global successes in combating the sale of illegal music product. In ITALY collection society SIAE joined with the police in a series of high profile raids across the country targeting 454 premises and resulting in charges brought against 137 people with 78,000 CDs, 5,000 DVDs and 6,000 VHS cassettes confiscated along with 17 sets of mastering equipment. In RUSSIA a number of government agencies have joined forces with the trade mark protection agency and various intellectual property organisations to tackle counterfeiters. Russia has one of Europe’s highest piracy levels with well over half of all music product sold being illegal copies. In THAILAND the British Government has formally asked the Thai Government to clampdown on illegal copies of music product flooding onto the world market. Thailand is the third largest exporter of illegal music product after China and Taiwan. See Mbusiness7 (PRS/MCPS magazine Spring 2003)