director acquitted by Moscow Court

By EDRi · August 29, 2007

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Denis Kvasov, head of Mediaservices, owner of music website was
acquitted by a Moscow court after having been brought to trial by
entertainment companies EMI Group Plc, NBC Universal and Time Warner Inc.
for copyright offences.

On 15 August 2007, district judge Yekaterina Sharapova ruled that Denis
Kvasov had not infringed the Russian law. “The prosecution did not succeed
in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright
law,” said the judge. She considered the arguments of the plaintiffs as
unconvincing and contradictory. Also, no evidence was produced to prove the
purchase and storage of counterfeit phonograms or the conversion of the
record-label phonograms into mp3 by the site.

Website site, which was a delicate subject during the US-Russia
talks for Moscow’s joining the World Trade Organization, was shut down in
June 2007 as a result of the pressure from the US music firms. The site had
offered downloads at very low prices; an album could be bought at less than
1 euro.

Kvasov’s defence argued that royalties had been paid to the Russian
Organization on Collective Management of Rights of Authors and Other
Rightholders in Multimedia, Digital Networks & Visual Arts (ROMS). However,
ROMS is not recognized by many Western companies which continue to ignore
the organization and refuse to receive payments from it. The payments are
made by the Russian sound recording companies according to the Russian
copyright law.

Mr. Nezus, director general of ROMS stated the music companies were
influenced by IFPI (The International Federation of the Phonographic
Industry). “The activity of all the legal Russian music Internet shops might
be affected, while IFPI intention to interfere with the activity of the
intern shops and societies to collectively supervise the copyright gives
rise to concern”.

In its turn, IFPI Russian Representation Office Head, Igor Pozhitkov,
considers the following reasons for not accepting ROMS: “Using broad law
formulations and separate parts of law, malefactors, sometimes the pirates
themselves, start creating pseudo societies on collective management to hide
their pirated activities. At the same time the criteria to determine the
efficiency and legitimacy of a Collective Management Society) are rather
simple and include representation of most of the copyright holders, activity
transparency, and actual recognition by the copyright holders and
international organizations”.

He also expressed the intention to appeal the decision against website in a higher court.

Russia throws out net piracy case (15.08.2007)

Russian court acquits music site owner (15.08.2007) Director acquittal (15.08.2007)

Russian mp3-shops barred from paying for the content (23.08.2007)

EDRI-gram: shut down, but more Russian music websites opened