IFPI's Piracy War In Russia Heats Up

As the piracy battle rages in Russia, the IFPI is suing a key producer of pirated CDs for over $1 million.

MOSCOW--As the piracy battle rages in Russia, the IFPI is suing a key producer of pirated CDs for over $1 million.

The civil case against Roff Technologies, which operates an optical disc plant near Moscow allegedly producing pirate copies of top artists like Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and U2, is the second major set of claims filed against a Russian CD plant since the IFPI announced an offensive targeting key suspects in Russia's piracy ring.

Russia is one of the IFPI's top three priority markets in the fight against piracy. The number of CD plants has doubled in the past three years in Russia, IFPI says, and pirate sales now outstrip legitimate sales. There is also evidence suggesting that pirate products are being exported from Russia to at least 26 countries, making it a key source of mass-produced pirate product.

A preliminary hearing of the civil suit for one of a multitude of claims totaling $1.4 million on behalf of IFPI members was heard in a Moscow court two weeks ago, and another claim is due before the court Monday.

A similar case launched in December against Moscow's Russobit-Soft optical plant is in progress.

"We are committed to an ongoing campaign to address the growing threat from plants in Russia that are manufacturing infringing product that appears on the international market," says IFPI chairman and CEO Jay Berman.

The IFPI is also demanding that Roff Technologies halts further production of pirated titles and that equipment used in their manufacture be confiscated.

Konstantin Zemchenkov, head of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization, says the IFPI's case would be stronger if it pursued criminal rather than civil cases.

"It is very, very difficult to win a civil case in Russia with evidence produced abroad," Zemchenkov says. "It would be better to have expertise produced here in Russia as our procedures are different from those used in London."

"Criminal cases have a better chance of success in Russia, but let's hope the IFPI is successful," Zemchenkov says. "It would certainly help in the battle against piracy here."

Nick Holdsworth is a writer with Billboard sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.