New Measures on Copyright Protection

27 November 2002

The situation of intellectual property protection in Russia has long been described by experts as disastrous. The share of illegal videocassettes in the Russian market is 50%, of audiocassettes 64%, and of DVDs almost 100%. In this connection, at the session held on October 3 2002 the Russian government determined the list of urgent anti-piracy measures. A specialized government committee led by the Prime Minister will be engaged in stage-by-stage development of the measures connected with intellectual property protection. It is supposed to improve the legislative base by working out amendments and changes into the existing laws and acceptance of new legal acts. Moreover, Russia intends to sign and ratify international agreements on copyright and related rights protection (namely, the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty).

The uniform nationwide system on identification of legal copies of audio and video production is supposed to be introduced to the territory of the Russian Federation. The right for sale of this production will be given exclusively to specialized stores which have obtained state permission for this activity. This system is supposed to eliminate the widely widespread sales of audio and video production through hawker’s stands and flea markets. The Government plans to control not only sales of audiovisual products but also its manufacture including supply of raw materials and equipment for manufacturing compact discs.

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation are committed to summarize law-implementation practice in this field for optimization of consideration procedure of IP disputes in courts. However, despite the enthusiasm of the supporters of legitimate business who welcomed the undertakings of the Government, some scepticism still remains.

The major consumers of counterfeit production in Russia are people with average or small incomes, so the difference in price between licensed and counterfeit product is significant, whereas the quality of the latter is often the same. The struggle against counterfeit products must be pursued in connection with reasonable price policy for audiovisual products in the legalized retail system, otherwise the real increase of demand for such products and consequently, support of the Government’s initiative by the population, can hardly be expected.

Source: Natalia A. Serpkova, Managing Intellectual Property