Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Russia Changes Copyright Rules, Then Beats Critics

Russian copyright royalties image
Russia has long been one of the countries that's been least hospitable to songwriters and artists because of its arcane copyright laws. Piracy and corruption has always been the order of the day there, and it's home to some of the most notorious hackers and torrents.

When the Russian Communications Ministry announced a new proposal aimed at changing the existing system of copyright royalty collection, it didn't get the response from the Russian music industry that it expected, according to an article in Billboard.

Currently, a single Russian agency can collect royalties without having the rights holder sign a contract. Obviously, that's a practice ripe for plundering since it enabled "insufficient transparency" in accounting.

The new proposal requires contracts to be signed between the collections agency and the copyright holder, and it enables other collection societies besides the state appointed one to enter the market. Obviously this is a step in the right direction.

That didn't sit well with the Russian music establishment though. After the announcement, Andrei Krichevsky, head of the state-run Melodiya label, was quoted in a Russian newspaper criticizing the proposal, stating the current system was working well and very efficient. He was then attacked and beaten after leaving his office in Moscow.

For once, this actually seems like the Russian government is coming down on the side of the little guy, although beating its critics is a throwback to the old KGB days. One wonders if this new law will actually change anything.

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