RIAA Pressures Russia Over Piracy

The RIAA last week applauded the U.S. Senate's passage of legislation that would put more pressure on the Russian government to curb widespread piracy within the country. A similar measure passed the U.S. House in mid-November.

Furthermore, Russia risks losing acceptance into the World Trade Organization and to receive trade benefits from the United States if it does not comply, the legislation reads.

The country has long been a target of the entertainment industry's ire for its issues with intellectual property rights enforcement. Popular online music store AllofMP3.com is based in the country, which has come under increasing attack for offering DRM-free versions of audio files, a practice the music industry has frowned upon.

The legality of the site is also in question, and the Russian authorities have already investigated the company.

RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol says that the legislation, which now goes to the president to be signed into law, is critical in pressuring Russia to act more aggressively when dealing with copyright infringement.

"The U.S.-Russia relationship must be built upon a mutual understanding of shared obligations and the application of the rule of law. The effective protection of American intellectual property has been sorely lacking in Russia," Bainwol argued.

He said that the law stands up for American artists and companies whose intellectual property rights are being infringed upon daily in the country. "We must not enter into political arrangements with countries ill-prepared to adequately protect our greatest economic assets," Bainwol added.

The Russian government has so far not publicly responded to criticisms by Bainwol and others, however a George Washington University media professor says that the law's passage means little.

"Resolutions look more important than they really are," Stephen Hess told Variety last week. Still, "it's a heads-up. A lot of work went into this one, so it's got some significance," he acknowledged.

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