“There Are No “Good” Pirates”: Intellectual Property Protection has been discussed in Moscow

“There Are No “Good” Pirates”: Intellectual Property Protection has been discussed in Moscow

On July 14, Moscow hosted Round Table “A safe pirate haven? Runet at the crossroads”, organized by the Center for Global IT-Cooperation together with Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE).

“There Are No “Good” Pirates”: Intellectual Property Protection has been discussed in Moscow

Is it good to be a pirate? Currently, due to leaving of many (or rather, almost all) Western majors, lots of people are asking a similar question. After all, what in the legal sense presently stops an ordinary user from downloading its favorite movie or series from an illegal resource, if a copyright holder itself does not want to have anything to do with the Russian audience? However, this approach has several pitfalls, one of which is legislation. Speakers of today's Round table managed to bust the myth of a noble "internet sea pirate", as well as find out how illegal access to foreign content can affect the development of national creative industry.

A wide range of experts who took part in the discussion included Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications - Anton Gorelkin, Director of the Center for Global IT-Cooperation - Vadim Glushchenko, Director of the PRUE’s Higher School of Creative Industries - Dmitry Kotov, General Director of the Internet Video Association - Alexei Byrdin, General Director of the National Federation of the Music Industry - Nikita Danilov, Associate Professor of the Russian State Academy of Intellectual Property - Lyubov Tsitovich, and representative of the Software Developers Association "Domestic Soft" - Diana Oganesyan. The round table was moderated by Deputy Director of the Center for Global IT-Cooperation, Vasily Zudin and Head of the Strategic Communications Department of the Digital Transformation Department, PRUE - Ekaterina Ivanilova.

Vadim Glushchenko told in his opening speech about the experience of foreign countries in combating piracy, noting that the most severe copyright laws apply in the United States and the European Union. As for Russian realities, it is currently necessary to develop a balanced approach that is acceptable for both the user and the copyright holder. Exit of the majority of foreign software suppliers from the Russian market was associated with their numerous violations of existing contractual and other obligations. “One of the alternative approaches could be the establishment of a temporary legal regime for foreign software and content of “violating” companies until they reimburse the losses to Russian counterparties and/or return to the Russian market. In relation to countries that violate obligations in the field of intellectual property towards Russia or have imposed illegal sanctions on Russia, one might think over a scheme for partial or complete blocking of the protection system for their intellectual property on the territory of our country,” he concluded.

State Duma Deputy, Anton Gorelkin believes that the quality of Russian content has improved significantly over the past few years, which means that it will continue to successfully replace products of majors that have left. At the same time, compulsory licensing can only harm the national creative industry, since copyright protection is “mirrored”, creating risks for exclusion of our online cinemas and online libraries from Inet-App stores.

Last year, the market passed a stress test and perfectly adjusted to the use of local content, Aleksey Byrdin recalled. “We need to understand that there is no “good piracy” and “good pirates”. And there is nothing good in pirating any content of major studios that have left: the time and attention that our viewers will spend on it won’t be spent on a legal Russian content. But pirates, being an adaptable community, find solutions to get around the restrictions imposed by copyright holders. However, if pirate services win by quantity, then legal ones succeed by quality, for example, by creating original content. In general, the use of legal services in Russia is now perceived as more than the norm. We took this path and won’t go off” he said confidently.

Nikita Danilov optimistically stated in his speech that not all music majors left the Russian market. Many of them stopped releasing new on the Russian territory, but they did not recall the old ones. “Legislation in the field anti-piracy can be improved. For example, we can provide for blocking of pirate mirror sites after the first court decision, since now it takes 7-8 months. The "anti-piracy memorandum" is temporary, so it would be better if some permanent mechanisms worked. The same goes for cleaning up search results. The effectiveness of this measure is good, but it can be improved,” Danilov said.

Considering the creative industry, Dmitry Kotov noted that an increasing demand for legal content was connected with a content growth in general. “All creative industries, in fact, are built on the monetization of intellectual property. And the principal task is to learn how to protect it. But one must clearly understand what is the object of protection and what is not (or not yet). For example, a common question that our students ask is: why should I participate in pitching, if the idea could be stolen? An idea itself is not subject to intellectual property. The key “pains” of digital creative industries in 2023 are a new area, uncertainty with regulation, an acute staff shortage, the need for a quickest import substitution of foreign software,” he said. Kotov added that the content of foreign majors had prevailed due to huge investments in marketing. And then, when the Russian market had also started to do the same, the popularity of domestic content had been growing as well.

Diana Oganesyan told that, from a legal point of view, copyright protection was strictly regulated. And, for example, in addition to program registration in Rospatent (Federal Service for Intellectual Property), a software developer could also include its product in the Register of Russian Software. In that case, the software had been checked for legal implementation, so it wouldn’t be possible to “slip through” with some pirate elements.

 “Intellectual property protection is a right way. But the pirate boom on our territory is a legal nihilism,” Lyubov Tsitovich focused on the need to promote Russian image as a state of law. Audience awareness on copyright protection, in her opinion, should be brought into effect at all levels, from school to, for example, the “Moscow Longevity” project. She believes that anti-piracy campaign should be part of the national policy, but representatives of the creative industries themselves sometimes become violators of other people's intellectual property rights, which makes the problem even more serious. Nevertheless, if we actively deal with this problem, then after 5-20 years the population will no longer need a pirate content, because the market will be full of high-quality legal content.

The speakers concluded that the way of legislative indulgence towards pirates is highly questionable, while the existing legal rules against piracy have proved its validity. There are enough mechanisms in Russia to protect copyrights, but the system has to be improved. At the same time, it is better not to hurry with the introduction of any new rules.


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