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American Pirates didnt Escape Punishment
June 20, 2007 18:24

symbol of Mosfilm

Recently a unique trial has been concluded in the USA: two Russian film companies – Mosfilm and Lenfilm won a case against Joseph Berov, an owner of the biggest bookshop in New York. Besides books he was distributing illegal CDs and videos with Soviet popular films recorded. He was found guilty and now has to pay 2.7 million US dollars as a pecuniary compensation.

However, the Russian film companies provided the jury court with their own figures, they claim Berov has sold about a million bootlegged cassettes with Soviet films for five years, thus, their losses as of copyright holders make up $10 million. The pirate didn’t confirm the amount of cassettes sold for the period indicated and insisted on 20 thousand instead of a million and estimated the damage at $110 thousand. The cost of consideration is based on the damage caused by illegal copying of 9 Russian films registered in the Library of Congress and other 374 non-registered Russian movies. The jury fined Berov $150 thousand for each enrolled film and $1.4 million for copying non-registered movies. Finally the jury court sentenced him to pay a compensation of $2.69 million.

The triumph of the Russian companies was observed by the main TV channels, but the words hidden behind the message said that Russia is not the only country with wide-spread piracy; the USA also has to fight pirates. Well, there is no country without criminals, but the justice has somehow many faces depending on the country it is done in.

After this small victory the Russian film makers are planning to find all the things out with American pirates. Close-Up International, a company representing the Russian Mosfilm and Lenfilm in the USA, has prosecuted 22 claims against 26 shops trading in bootlegged videos in the US and Canada.

But all that pirates can hardly be compared to Berov, who is admitted to be a recidivist, whose name has been known to the police for over 10 years. This trial is the third for the pirate, who used to import Estonian women into the USA to make them work as servants in emigrant families. After he was found guilty and sentenced with federal probation, Berov opened his first bootleg video business under New York, but was arrested in 2003 and spent 10 months in prison. This time his punishment is considered humane, nevertheless, Berov is going to take an appeal. In their turn the film companies said that in this case they would apply for recovering all claim costs from the pirate, which may increase the size of compensation up to $5 million.

Certainly this case has showed that the US judicial system is capable of fighting and punishing piracy, - that is the lesson all criminals dealing with bootlegged production should learn. If someone transgresses a law, they will be punished. Unfortunately, this doesn’t equal the Russian judicial system. The reason is probably in other structures of the country, the police and civil servants, who are, as a matter of fact, corrupt. You can find pirates in every city and everybody knows where one can buy their production, but almost nothing is done.



Olga Pletneva

Tags: Russian laws Russia International    

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