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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Copyright agency formed

Russia's new copyright agency pledged this week to combat video, audio and software piracy as control over intellectual property continues to weaken in a chaotic market.

The Russian Intellectual Property Agency, RAIS, the country's first real copyright organization, has been granted official status by the government and plans soon to begin enforcing newly written copyright legislation, its general director, Mikhail Fedotov, said at a news conference. This means that Russia is ready to sign the Bern Convention, an international agreement on protecting intellectual property drawn up 106 years ago.

The country's failure to adhere to the principles of the Bern Convention infuriated Hollywood filmmakers last year, who refused to participate in an

important film festival here and have demanded that the former Soviet Union take action to stop unauthorized copying of movies.

Software companies also complained that piracy of their product was rampant because of a lack of proper legislation or enforcement.

Last year alone, 1. 5 billion rubles worth of intellectual property was lost to piracy, Fedotov said.

Under the purview of RAIS, Russia's print and broadcast media will be required for the first time to obtain permission and pay for material. In addition, copyright protection after an author's death will extend from 25 to 50 years. As for software, the Russian parliament adopted a bill last month to outlaw piracy.

RAIS replaces the former Soviet organization, the U. S. S. R. Copyright Agency, which was known to concern

itself mostly with censorship and shaving huge chunks off of Soviet writer's hard currency honorariums earned abroad. In the Soviet Union's 74 years of existence, not one copyright case was ever brought to court, despite a law on Soviet books which was supposed to protect intellectual property, RAIS officials noted. This may be because under the Soviet copyright agency, even intellectual property effectively belonged to the state.

As they continue to develop a legal basis for copyright protection, RAIS officials admit that enforcement may be a problem. The agency currently has only 135 enforcement officials for the entire country, although it plans to triple or quadruple this figure, said Eduard Renov, an agency deputy director. He said RAIS would launch an advertising campaign in the coming six months to educate the public.