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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NEWS ANALYSIS: Bill Gates, Pop Stars Fight Losing Battle With Pirates




If Bill Gates can't get money out of Russia for breaches of copyright, it's unlikely that the Beatles or Rolling Stones will have any luck recouping royalties either.


The Microsoft boss' efforts to halt piracy of his company's products and make Russians pay for using them have gotten nowhere. The company says it made $37 million in Russia in 1998 but would have made 10 times more if all users had paid full price.


Nonetheless, Russia last week signed a new agreement with the European Union in which it promised to amend its legislation on copyrights and trademarks to comply with international standards, and extend copyright protection to European sound recordings made before 1995, Reuters reported.


But the new law - much like the existing copyright law that is intended to protect recordings made since 1995 - is likely to be ignored, and the offenders will probably go unpunished.


Despite the existing law, piracy is rampant. And a new law protecting sound recordings made between 1943 and 1995 is likely to be ignored.


Still, the ground work for setting international standards for intellectual property rights must be laid at some point - and experts say this is exactly what this seemingly impractical law intends to do.


"It is better to have this law than to have none," said Boris Pustyntsev, chairman of St. Petersburg-based human rights group Citizens' Watch. "But, practically speaking, it is useless."


"Laws of delayed action" is how Pustyntsev, who works closely with the EU on questions of intellectual property in Russia, refers to such legislation.


Though it may be futile, this law, he said, is an important part of Russia's legal framework.


"There are many such laws here that don't work in this transition period. Yet, they are essential to help us build up a legal structure for the future. It has a purpose, but not an immediate one," Pustyntsev said.


The European recording industry has frequently voiced its complaints over what it sees as a lack of effective copyright protection in Russia, the EU said and Reuters reported last week. Older works of groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have been copied and sold freely in Russia, causing record companies major losses in revenue.


While the new law seeks to legally protect the older and more famous music groups from copyright infringements, for the immediate future, these laws will more than likely exist on paper only.