Russia appears to be addressing the problem of piracy on many levels.
That is certainly the impression I get as an outsider looking in, writing about developments in what is the largest market in the CEE region.
Just this week, the Russian press reported that the regulation of intellectual property rights, hitherto undertaken quite inefficiently by 20 different government departments, would by the end of this year be the responsibility of just one body – a beefed-up Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent), which has until now been charged with registering patents and property rights.
Also this week, we saw the creation of a new association by sellers of legal content and rights holders. Operating as part of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications (REAK), it will both fight piracy on the internet and be proactively engaged in the legislative process.
In other key developments, the TV station TNT reconciled its differences with YouTube and now has its content placed legally on the video-sharing site. Meanwhile, Ren TV, another TV station, signed an agreement with VKontakte, Russia’s leading social media network.
Aside from this, we occasionally hear about pay-TV operators such as Tricolor TV and NTV-Plus taking legal action, at times resulting in imprisonment, against pirates.
The major turning point in Russia’s fight with piracy was undoubtedly the enactment of a law in August 2013 protecting online videos. Its scope was subsequently extended to music on May 1 this year.
Thanks to the legislation, online sales of movies and TV shows doubled in the first 18 months following August 2013, while the number of buyers of legal online content rose to 12 million. The music industry feels confident that it, too, will soon start to feel the benefits.
While Russia undoubtedly still has a long way to go, it is certainly making progress in its fight with piracy.