IFPI Chairman John Kennedy has sent a letter to Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, expressing his concerns about the fact that a Russian collecting society has begun collecting royalties for IFPI members without having proper agreements with them.

According to the letter, quoted by the Russian business daily Kommersant, VOIS (the national society for intellectual property), a privately operating collecting society, has been collecting royalties due to be paid to IFPI members, although it has not yet received accreditation from the government.

Under the amendments to the Russian copyright law enacted as of Jan. 1, 2008, only companies that have accreditation from the government can manage rights collectively and collect royalties without direct agreements from right owners.

In addition to VOIS, two more collecting societies have applied for state accreditation and only one of them will be selected by the state copyright watchdog, Rosokhrankultura, on July 31.

Russian industry players say that Kennedy's concerns about VOIS could be justified.

"There are questions about transparency of operations of VOIS," Pyotr Poroykov, general director of RFA, a private Russian collecting society that manages rights of several foreign labels, including IFPI members, told Billboard.biz. "For instance, it collects royalties from Russian RailWays [on music played on the stations and trains operated by the state-run company], but it is not clear, what rights holders actually receive from them."

Meanwhile, VOIS shrugged off IFPI's accusations. "We only collect royalties for rights holders we have direct agreement with," Viktor Osipov, the company's deputy general director told Kommersant.