WTO casts big ‘nyet’

Russia denied entry amid piracy woes

MOSCOW — Russia failed to gain entry to the World Trade Organization at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Although the deal breaker was a dispute over U.S. meat imports, the U.S. remains concerned about the lack of protection of intellectual property rights in Russia.

Pirate DVDs of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” appeared on Moscow’s streets roughly day-and-date with its July 13 theatrical bow.

Even this spring’s Russian actioner, “Hunting for Piranha,” was pirated despite the fact that the movie, produced by pubcaster Rossiya, had special protection from local law enforcement agencies.

Raids on pirate plants have been up in recent months, but there’s been an increase in small-scale operations run out of private apartments. Prosecutions following raids and confiscations remain few.

And availability of pirate versions of pics on the Internet is growing fast and remains almost unpoliced.

“If this is presented as a good picture on WTO progress, then heaven knows what a bad picture would look like,” one local player said.

Observers speculate that corrupt officials, some at the highest levels of government, are holding back attempts to enforce antipiracy legislation.

Even Russia’s liberal-leaning minister for trade and economic development, German Gref, the man behind Russia’s WTO application and one of the last remaining reformers in the government, admitted after a meeting with MPAA topper Dan Glickman in March that the issue would take “some years” to resolve.

With Russians used to paying just $3 for a pirate DVD with up to eight pics on it, the prospects look bleak.