Source Pravda.Ru

Pirated discs or Russian defense?

Pirated compact disks to undermine Russia’s defense power
America has overridden Russia once again because of the production and export of pirated disks. US Ambassador Alexander Vershbow sent an angry letter to Russian Press Minister Mikhail Lesin and accused several Russian defense establishments of the large-scale production of pirated disks. The Press Ministry at once informed the Russian media of this letter; however, it plans no actions so far.

Alexander Vershbow is a perfectly informed man, as any ambassador should be. The US Ambassador says that Russia produces 200 million compact disks per year, but its export of disks is the world’s second. Moreover, the ambassador is sure that a majority of pirated disks is produced at famous Russian defense establishments. (It is an open secret that the USA is rather suspicious toward Russian defense establishments. If the Americans could, they would close all of them. This would certainly reduce competition on the international armament market; what is more important, Russian President Putin would become more compliant without tanks, submarines, planes, and intercontinental ballistic missiles). The ambassador asks Mikhail Lesin to examine all the establishments causing the suspicion of Americans and take measures to stop their unauthorized activities. The ambassador’s letter was supplied with a list of such plants and companies, including those that hold facilities on lease at defense establishments. (The CIA seems to have created the list. Have they already caught bin Laden and have nothing else to do?) Officials from the Press Ministry were surprised to see almost all large Russian compact disk producers on the list, for example, the Ural electronic plant, Zelenograd plant of music technologies, and the Astico Center. In addition, the Ambassador accuses Russobit-Soft enterprise, member of the Russobit group, of illegal production of disks. This is rather interesting, because Russobit-Soft is presided by chairman of the intellectual property committee at Russia’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Oleg Gorodiyko. The Chamber has recently submitted a plan of its own on the struggle with piracy for the consideration of the government.

It is perfectly clear that Oleg Gorodiyko rejected such accusations. He organized a press conference and, in response, said the US Ambassador lobbies the interests of American producers of audio and video products. He also mentioned similar accusations concerning China, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, where almost all defense establishments were closed under US pressure. In a word, Oleg Gorodiyko accused the ambassador of undermining Russia’s defense power under quite an insignificant pretext. At the same time, he is perfectly sure that the above-mentioned letter was initiated by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the interests of US companies.

Representatives of defense establishments are perplexed about the ambassador’s demarche. Deputy director for economic activity at one of Moscow defense establishments told PRAVDA.Ru that plants and institutes lease rooms to those who can pay regularly, and better in cash, so not as to cause many problems for the owners of the buildings. The landlord is not interested at all what the tenants do on the rented areas. If they deal with something illegal, police should investigate the case. Otherwise, any accusations by foreign ambassadors do not seem a reason to break agreements with tenants who regularly pay the rent. It is quite natural that the ambassador lobbies the interests of his country in Russia, which is the purpose for which he was sent here. And let him do as he wishes! On the contrary, the version of Oleg Gordiyko who produces compact disks himself and understands the situation perfectly well, still looks rather comic and far-fetched. Who needs American disks in the Russian Federation? There are few people who can afford American disks for $15-20 in Russia; the price is very high. Moreover, the majority of the population do not even have a notion of what compact disks look like. Therefore, the market sector where the USA and EU could present their products is quite insignificant; moreover, disks of good quality produced in the Czech Republic and Hungary are really very popular in Russia.

Copyright observation is also very pressing nowadays in Russia. The country has already joined the international convention and is doing its best to settle this problem. There is a famous trading center in Moscow called Gorbushka that sells compact disks and electronics; 90% of disks are still pirated there. It is perfectly evident that it is necessary to struggle not with producers of pirated disks but with psychological stereotype of the population. While the demand for pirated disks is very great in Russia, producers will supply pirated disks to the market.

The demand for pirated disks is great because they are much cheaper.

On the other hand, Russia on the whole is quite an illegal country. The Russian Statistics Committee regularly reports an increase of Russians’ incomes. We have a decline of living standards, an so on, but it is perfectly clear that the reported information is a fiction. New calculations of the living wage in Russia is regularly published in the press; however, officials from the RF Labor and Social Development Ministry who calculate the ridiculous living wage, do not live on this sum. And while Russian wages, taxes, incomes, etc. are not transparent and adequate, it is no use to reproach Russia with the production of pirated disks. However, Russia is to observe the international obligations it has assumed. The Russian Press Ministry didn’t officially comment on the US ambassador’s letter.

As it turned out, governmental resolution #381 “On confirmation of the regulation on licensing of reproduction of audio, video, and phonograms on different data media” was passed on June 4. According to the resolution, producers of audio- and video data media should liquidate infringements of the licensing requirements until August 4. Dmitry Slobodyanyuk PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/01/45015.html

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