U.S. companies lose US$1.8 billion of Russian pirates in 2005

Pirated films, music and software cost U.S. companies nearly US$1.8 billion ( Ђ 1.5 billion) in 2005, according to a report by a coalition of U.S. copyright-holders. "Russia's copyright piracy problem remains one of the world's most serious. Piracy rates for most sectors are estimated at around 70 percent to 80 percent in 2005 and losses continue to be staggering," the International Intellectual Property Association said in a statement released late Monday.

Despite largely bringing its intellectual property laws into line with international norms and treaties, enforcement in Russia remains weak. Stalls selling pirated music and software as well as DVDs of the latest Hollywood films can be found throughout the Russian capital and other cities.

The issue continues to dog Russia's negotiations with the United States on its accession to the World Trade Organization. The IIPA called for the immediate suspension of trade benefits Russia currently enjoys, worth some US$400 million ( Ђ 336 million) a year, on certain metals imports to the United States under the General System of Preferences. Though frequently cited, the threat of revoking the benefits has yet to be imposed, reports the AP.

N.U.