Piracy could prevent Russia WTO bid

Russia will be unable to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a timely manner if its government doesn’t take a stronger stance against piracy.

Russian government officials plan to meet with U.S. lawmakers to try and figure out an appropriate strategy to combat piracy.

Piracy could prevent Russia WTO bid

“We have made clear to the Russian government repeatedly that intellectual property enforcement has to be strengthened in order for them to enter the WTO,” said Victoria Espinel, U.S. intellectual property enforcement officer, during a recent meeting at the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, with the two global leaders hoping to see Russia to reach an understanding on all current WTO-related roadblocks.

Russia is one of five pirate nations accused of turning a blind eye in the ongoing fight against piracy.  Russia will play host to several U.S. trade officials expected to make a trip to the country to discuss intellectual property enforcement.

Although the Russian government has been lackadaisical to crack down on piracy, a recent $1.25 billion BitTorrent case shows Medvedev is taking a more stern approach against piracy.  It’s obviously impossible for the operators of the Interfilm.ru site, Ivan and Irina Podorozhnikovymi, to pay the possible $1.25 billion fine — but it sends a strong message against other pirates in the country.

Meanwhile, Pres. Obama is taking a significantly more serious approach to copyright enforcement — including adding pressure on China to reduce widespread piracy.  Several recent government operations have targeted counterfeiting, piracy, and online distribution.

Keeping Russia out of the WTO due to piracy seems unlikely, but it’s yet another bargaining chip the United States can use in ongoing negotiations.  Furthermore, it’s unlikely Russia is going to try to stamp out piracy any time soon, and will instead remove several high-profile sites as a clever smokescreen.