International trade body the IFPI is urging European Commission president Romano Prodi to press the Russian government to take action on intellectual property issues.

LONDON--International trade body the IFPI is urging European Commission president Romano Prodi to press the Russian government to take action on intellectual property issues.

Russia is currently negotiating its admission to the World Trade Organization. The IFPI is adamant that "effective action" on intellectual property should be set as a condition of Russia's admission to WTO.

IFPI chairman and CEO Jay Berman comments, "I cannot emphasize enough the need for the Commission to ensure that Russia implements the international intellectual property rules in the TRIPS Agreement in word and spirit before it can be admitted to the WTO."

Prodi and seven EU Commissioners were visiting Russia last week, including trade commissioner Pascal Lamy. Berman met with Lamy a couple of weeks ago to discuss a wide range of issues, among them the situation in Russia.

Berman emphasized to Lamy that the Commission has to address what he describes as "unacceptably high levels of music piracy" in Russia.

According to IFPI, Russia is "the number one source of illegal music recordings" in the European Union and Accession countries (term used to identify the new countries joining or willing to join the EU) and "the second largest pirate music manufacturer in the world."

Berman says it is imperative that Russia bring levels of intellectual property protection in line with EU and international standards.

Another bone of contention is Russia failing to meet its deadlines regarding IP protection. According to the EU-Russia "Partnership & Cooperation Agreement," Russia was due to provide by January 2003 a similar level of IP protection in Russia as exists in the EU. "Fifteen months after this deadline, Russia is still far from fulfilling this obligation," notes the IFPI.

Russian copyright law does not provide any protection whatsoever for pre-1995 recordings.