The U.S. Senate passed a joint resolution late last night (Dec. 21) calling on the Russian Federation to provide effective protection for intellectual property or risk not being accepted into the World Trade Organization. It was passed by the House of Representatives last month.
The resolution (H. Con. Res. 230) also warns the Russian government that it will lose its duty-free trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences if it fails to take action.
Russia is the second largest pirate market after China. The production capacity for its licensed optical disc plants far exceeds local demand. Pirate product seized in more than two dozen countries around the world has been traced back to many of these plants, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The Russian government set up a commission on intellectual property in 2002 and promised a further offensive in 2003, but the IFPI reported that there were no significant results. Its enforcement of IP rights is sporadic and has little deterrent effect.
“With the passage of this resolution in the Senate, the entire U.S. Congress has made clear that the Russian government must significantly step up the fight against piracy,” says RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol. “We must not enter into political arrangements with countries ill-prepared to adequately protect our greatest economic assets.”
Last year all copyright industries lost $1.7 billion in Russia due to piracy and over $6 billion in the last five years, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
“We look forward to working with the U.S. and Russian governments in the coming weeks and months to achieve the progress that is so desperately needed,” Bainwol says.