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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Piracy Crackdown May Aid WTO Bid

Itar-TassPirated discs being destroyed in the Moscow region last year. Outdoor markets and kiosks are now being targeted.
The government has banned the sale of DVDs, videocassettes and music CDs from its outdoor markets and kiosks, in a further sign that the Kremlin is getting serious about combating piracy as the coveted membership in the WTO moves closer.

A government order, adopted late last week, replaces and updates a widely flouted measure introduced four years ago.

Industry observers in Moscow say the order should lead to a renewed crackdown on piracy through new police drives to stop the sale of optical discs at outdoor markets and street-corner kiosks -- the principal point of sale for pirated DVDs in Russia.

Issuing the order also allows the Kremlin to demonstrate that it is getting tough with pirates ahead of World Trade Organization accession.

The country's lax record on stemming piracy has been among the key stumbling blocks to its membership in the world's top trade club.

Konstantin Zemchenko, head of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization, which is backed by major Hollywood studios, applauded the decision to step up Russia's anti-piracy drive.

"Essentially this is not really a new law -- it simply adds computer software and databases to an existing list of banned products -- but at least the government is paying attention to piracy," Zemchenko said. "We can expect for a time to see the police pay a little more attention to street and kiosk sales."

He added that, in the longer term, addressing the lax attitude of police to the sale of pirated goods on Russia's streets is key, as the police often turn a blind eye to piracy in return for payment from vendors.