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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anti-Piracy Legislation Criticized

Russia's chances of joining the World Trade Organization this year will fade if the government pushes ahead with new legislation on intellectual property rights, industry groups and anti-piracy campaigners warned Tuesday, saying the proposed bills were flawed.

The bill, which would replace all existing legal safeguards, is riddled with holes and would likely increase intellectual property theft, said the Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights, an organization active in the former Soviet Union that is made up of trademark, patent and brand owners and other groups.

Russia has brought its intellectual property laws largely in line with international norms, but enforcement remains weak despite widely publicized police raids on factories where pirated DVDs, CDs and software are made.

The issue has dogged Russia's efforts to wrap up WTO membership talks with the United States -- one of the last countries it needs to strike a deal with.

Pirated films, music and software in Russia cost U.S. companies nearly $1.8 billion last year, anti-piracy groups say.

"Changes in the legislative norms of intellectual property rights at this time, just when the courts have just finally developed experience in this area, may lead to a significant increase in the number of questionable court decisions," the concerned parties said. "As a result, if this draft [bill] is adopted, it will likely make it significantly more difficult for Russia to join the WTO."