Many people are surprised to hear that the biggest opponent to Russia’s ascension to the World Trade Organization is not the United States, it is not a competing market in Europe, and it most certainly is not the plot of restless exiles. Russia’s biggest obstacle to trade is its lax enforcement of intellectual property laws, and there are many powerful groups such as the motion picture lobby and technology manufacturers such as Apple who are actively obstructing their entrance into the trade club. But today there is news that Russia has taken a big step forward by shutting down the hugely popular (and illegal) www.allofMP3.com.
According to reports:
“Allofmp3.com violated copyright law in Russia and internationally by ripping off artists and creators, taking music that it had no right to reproduce and selling it worldwide,” said John Kennedy, chairman of IFPI, the international music industry lobby. “We would now like to see decisive action taken against similar copyright-infringing sites to show that the Russian authorities are indeed seriously committed to enforcing intellectual property rights.”
The closure of this website represents a victory for rule of law in Russia, however, the same owners maintain a second website, MP3Sparks.com, which offers exactly the same service. Siberian Light relates a personal experience with the services, and argues that this crackdown is entirely cosmetic. If only now the Kremlin could respect the property rights of energy investors would we really have reason to cheer for the country’s economic future.