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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rockers Give Lesin an Ultimatum on Piracy

Government promises to crack down on bootlegging have done nothing to stem the rise of music piracy, a market that grew 25 percent last year to an estimated $311 million, rock and roll supremos said Thursday.

Flanked by rockers B-2 and pop quintet Drugiye Pravila, Jay Berman, the CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the recording industry's international trade body, said he had given Press Minister Mikhail Lesin an ultimatum at a meeting earlier this week:

"I told him I'm coming back in September and I expect something to have been done by then.

"There are enough legal instruments available now to law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges to deal with this problem. The issue now is enforcement," Berman told reporters Thursday.

Berman's return in September will coincide with a meeting of an anti-piracy committee established by the Cabinet last year.

The IFPI considers Russia the No. 2 music pirate in the world behind China, with a market estimated at $513 million. (Earlier this week, the U.S. Business Software Alliance released a study putting Russia No. 3 in the world in terms of software piracy, behind Vietnam and China.)

The IFPI says there are currently 28 plants in Russia, several in the defense sector, that are capable of churning out more than 300 million CDs and 18 million DVDs each year -- more than 1,000 percent of legitimate sales.

David Munns, the vice president of international record label EMI, said Russia is the world's top exporter of pirated music, costing his company alone some $40 million in lost sales last year. Russian-made pirated discs have been found in 40 countries, he added.

"Sadly we can't invest in Russia any more."

Organizations on the front line of the fight, however, were quick to defend their work.

Speaking by mobile phone from an anti-piracy conference in Barcelona, Konstantin Zemchenkov, the director of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization, said the picture was not all black.

After intense lobbying and legal pressure, illegal production at the UVK-Stimul plant in the Moscow region has recently been halted, and a government resolution banning the sale of audio and video products on all nonstationary outlets will come into effect later this month, he said.

Members of Drugiye Pravila, which opened the press conference with an ad hoc version of its hit "Poi," confessed that prior to shooting to fame a few months ago they were frequent buyers of pirated discs.

"But now we know the error of our ways," said high-haired frontman Roman Beresnyevoi.