European body points to progress

Russia is making gradual progress on increasing and improving the protection of intellectual property, a key European audiovisual industry body said Monday.

The Strasbourg, France-based European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe, said that following the introduction of a new law last month, “the level of legislative protection of intellectual property rights is increasing” in Russia.

In a report, “Transformation of Authors’ Rights and Neighboring Rights in Russia,” prepared for the Observatory by Dmitry Golovanov from the Moscow Media Law and Policy Center, the Observatory notes that new intellectual property laws effective since Jan. 1 replace “all previous Russian legislation on copyright issues such as the Copyright Statute.”

The laws — part four of the Russian civil law code — may even signal “Russia’s future intention of joining the World Trade Organization,” which has demanded improvement in copyright protection, the report states.

The new measures to protect intellectual property are a step in the right direction but remain far from perfect, the report finds.

Problems identified in the report include “the unusual definition of ‘intellectual rights’ as enshrined in the new legislation, the term of protection for exclusive rights and the regulation of contractual relations between a rights holder and a buyer.”

The new law seeks to clarify Russia’s collective rights management system, which under the previous legislation was a confused and opaque tangle of overlapping authorities.

Report author Golovanov explains that the new legislation divides rights management societies into two groups: those accredited by the government and authorized to represent the interests of authors and rights holders, and other societies who shall receive authorization only on the basis of agreements.

Tough new measures to combat intellectual property violations are contained in the new law, with repeat or serious offenders liable to lose their businesses.

The report concludes that although a step in the right direction, the new law has room for improvement.

“Attempts to satisfy the need for an effective regulation of collective rights management are left unfinished,” the report states, although “the level of legislative protection of intellectual property rights is increasing.”

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