Category Archives: copyright

Microsoft Condemns the Kremlin!

The Kremlin has lost a major battle and received another humiliating international black eye.  The Microsoft Website reports:

A story in yesterday’s New York Times reports on anti-piracy enforcement actions in Russia that have been used for more nefarious purposes than protecting intellectual property rights.

As General Counsel for Microsoft, it was not the type of story that felt good to read. It described instances in which authorities had used piracy charges concerning Microsoft software to confiscate computers and harass non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others engaged in public advocacy. It suggested that there had been cases when our own counsel at law firms had failed to help clear things up and had made matters worse instead.

Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain. We are moving swiftly to seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Once again, Putin breaks his Word

EDITORIAL

Once again, Putin breaks his Word

Russia, you may have heard, is ruled by a liar.  A man, Vladimir V. Putin, who spent his entire life in the KGB, proudly learning the ways and means of dishonesty and mendacity, until likely he himself lost touch with the very notion of what is true.  As such, that Putin would govern on basis of lies, deception and self-deception, should surprise nobody, and instances of such conduct flow in on a daily basis.  How convenient for Putin, then, that the current occupant of the Oval Office is a helpless sucker, and his predecessor was little better.

Back in 2006, Vladimir Putin signed a bilateral treaty with the United States promising to implement certain policies in Russia to protect American intellectual property rights, which were being profligately stolen by Russians far and wide.

Four years later, the U.S. government has issued a report (see page 23) which, for all practical purposes, calls Putin a liar for failing to do what he promised he would in the written agreement.

Continue reading

October 2, 2009 — Contents

FRIDAY OCTOBER 2 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Stinging Defeat for Russia in Germany

(2)  Russia’s Virulent Hatred of America, Part I

(3)  Russia’s Virulent Hatred of America, Part II

(4)  Armenia and the Caucasus

(5)  Russia and the Movies

NOTE:  Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the American Thinker blog is up and running, it exposes the pathetic level of Internet access available to Russians

NOTE:  Yezhedevny Zhurnal columnist Alexander Podrabinek, whom we’ve often translated on this blog, has received death threats over a recent column and gone into hiding.

NOTE:  A Russian photographer posts graphic, deeply disturbing photographs taken by his colleague at a provincial Russian mental hospital.  Note the photographer’s response to comments in English.  Warning:  not for the squeamish. Hat tip:  Global Voices. 

June 10, 2009 — Contents

WEDNESDAY JUNE 10 CONTENTS

(1) EDITORIAL: A Journalist Flees Neo-Soviet Russia

(2) EDITORIAL: An Ugly American Visits a Russian Dentist

(3)  EDITORIAL:  Annals of Russian Stupidity

(4)  Bloody Dagestan, out of Control

(5)  The Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Artists Continues

NOTE:  On Monday June 15th and again on Wednesday June 17th, Masha Novikova’s film “In the Holy Fire of Revolution,” documenting the Kremlin’s oppression of Garry Kasparov’s “Other Russia” reform movement, will have its US premier at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City. Be there or be square.

NOTE:  How can anyone not be repulsed after reading #1 and #5 in today’s issue, which document the persecution of artists and journalists in a manner no different from what occurred in Soviet times. Russia, of course, is currently ruled by a proud KGB spy. How many times did we here “don’t worr, Russia can’t go back to the USSR”? Lies, all lies.

“Russian” Internet composed mostly of Foreign Criminals

Bookmark and Share

We’ve repeatedly pointed out that less than a fifth of the Russian population has Internet access, which isn’t surprising given that the average wage is $3/hour and the cost of Internet use is similar to that in the West.  The Russian website Veb Planeta recently carried the following op-ed item, translated by Profy (hat tip: Global Voices).  It points out the flip side to this issue, namely that more than half the traffic on the Russian internet consists of thieves seeking to profit from lax Russian copyright protection:

Russia is well-known for its liberty when it comes to piracy: one almost never sees a court trial featuring any crime related to downloading content from torrents or using pirated software here in Russia. But I did not really know Russia has already become a safe shelter for foreign pirates – in the way that Las Vegas has become for the US people in gambling.

It now turns out that more than a half (52%) of all the visitors to all the web resources in the Russian internet segment are foreign pirates who rush to the local web resources looking for free content that is easily available on the popular Russian torrents.

Continue reading

One “Raped” Investor gets Wise to Russia

Writing on Seeking Alpha, in a column entitled “From Russia with Bitterness,” international investor Eric Roseman sees the light (the Motley Fool has similar sentiments):

One of my biggest mistakes a few years ago was placing a bet on one of Russia’s largest oil companies. In hindsight, despite the incredible value still offered by this investment, I’ve lost more than 50% of my capital…and not strictly because of plunging oil prices.

Russia is not governed by market capitalism. The market has evolved into a twisted version of despot capitalism whereby Vladimir Putin sets the tone for the market, deciding which companies should be nationalized (a.k.a. victimized), purged, and eventually placed under full or partial state control. The government typically targets natural resource companies for this exercise and doesn’t care if foreign investors get caught in the middle of this confusing web of intervention.

Continue reading

China is the New Russia

At last Russia, for so many years childishly thumbing its nose at copyright protection, is now getting a brutal taste of its own medicine. The Weekly Standard reports:

RUSSIA AND THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC of China are about to go head-to-head on issue of significant national security and strategic importance to both nations. Believe it or not, it is not about the placement of a gas pipeline, nuclear weapons development, or the rapidly rising price per barrel of Russian oil. What it concerns is the age-old Chinese penchant for making illegal copies of almost anything imaginable.

“You wouldn’t steal a car!” is the warning that flashes across the screen almost every time you put a movie in your DVD player. What usually follows is a series of messages about the evils of pirating movies, including the obligatory warning from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation about how video piracy is punishable by up to 5 years in a federal penitentiary and/or $250,000 in fines.

One country where these warnings have had little or no effect is the People’s Republic of China, no matter where you are in this vast country. As you move through various regions of the country one, the people look different, the food tastes different, the Putonghua (Mandarin) Chinese that is spoken in Beijing and other parts of northern and southwestern China is replaced by Guangdonghua (Standard Cantonese) or other local dialects. What does not change in any city is that almost every DVD and CD shop behind a hidden panel or bookcase that contains a mammoth selection of pirated films and music–all of which are supposedly illegal. The last such hideaway room I visited this past month was offering 10 DVDs for 100 Chinese Yuan (RMB), with an 11th disk thrown in for free, which works out to about $1.30 per disk. This may be one of the few places in the world where the US dollar still buys something. (I do not want to say which city, lest the local gendarmeries decide they need to make a symbolic crackdown on these entrepreneurs to create some positive pre-Olympic games publicity and take everyone’s attention off the debacle of the torch relay and the recent exposure of a secret Chinese Navy submarine base.)

But, Hollywood and the trade associations that represent the famous entertainers trying to stamp out video and music pirating have comparatively little to complain about when you look at the situation that Russia’s military aircraft industry finds itself in. As the Russian newspaper Pravda reports, “Chinese pirates have entered a new level of activity.”

In the early 1980s and before the collapse of the USSR, Soviet aircraft industry turned out two extremely capable, twin-engined, twin-tailed fighter designs: The Mikoyan MiG-29 and the Sukhoi Su-27. The latter aircraft was considerably larger than the smaller and more nimble MiG. It was in the same weight class as the Boeing F-15, and like its US analogue it was designed to be a long-range interceptor that could give its operators the long reach needed by nations with a plethora of air space to defend.

In the early 1990s, the PRC was desperate for just such an airplane. Chinese industry had tried to produce one for years, but had seen its efforts at design innovation stalled for more than a decade. At the same time orders and funding to Russian industry from its own military had dropped to nothing. The only way the makers of Russian weapon systems were going to survive was from export sales to China, India, and other nations.

Several years after their first purchase of Su-27SK export variants, China signed an agreement with Russia’s state arms export agency, Rosvooruzheniye, for the licensed production at the Shenyang Aircraft Works of 200 additional Su-27SKs, as well as subsequent orders of Su-30MKK two-seat, multirole versions of the aircraft. Russian industry breathed a sigh of relief as billions of Chinese dollars began to fill their coffers.

But, in 2004 China’s military told Moscow that the airplanes it was licence-producing were no longer needed because–according to the Chinese military–“the combat performance of these aircraft is far too limited.” The 200-aircraft production run was truncated at 95 units of the J-11, which was the designation given by Shenyang for the Su-27SKs assembled in China, with only 180 of the twin-engined aircraft’s Saturn/Lyulka AL-31F jet engines delivered as well.
Three years later in 2007, it was easy to see why the Shenyang plant had cut off the licensed production of the Su-27SK at the halfway mark. Chinese industry had learned all it needed to know in order to copy this airplane and soon presented their “indigenously developed” J-11B fighter, which from all external appearances appeared to be an analogue of the Su-27SK. Russian officials were less than diplomatic in their reaction. Another Moscow paper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, reports Russian sources stating “the J-11B is an absolute imitation of the Su-27SK.”

Beijing making its own copies of Sukhoi airplanes, or “Sushki” as they are sometimes referred to in Russian slang, has Moscow worried. A copy of the Su-27SK has the potential to do to Russia’s defense market abroad what Chinese industry has done to the US consumer electronics industry. Just as Wal-Mart contains almost an entirely Chinese-made selection of products, the future world fighter market could be crowded with cheap, Chinese copies of the Su-27. Some of the more dire Russian predictions are that the Shenyang plant could flood the export market with as many as 5000 J-11Bs, which would eliminate many of the Western and even Russian alternative choices for numerous nations looking to upgrade their air forces.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that as a consequence, “Russia has officially informed China that it considers the J-11B to be an absolute copy of the Su-27SK and that this is a direct violation of the two nations’ contractual agreement. Moscow has further promised that it will initiate legal proceedings in order to protect its intellectual property rights.”

However, it is hard to see in what legal forum Moscow can address these grievances. China belongs to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), but Russia does not. Even if there was a clear-cut path to make a legal case against China they would be on questionable legal grounds–pirating of software and other copyrighted products in Russia is as widespread as anywhere in the world.

But the larger problem that Moscow has is its dependence on China for export orders of other defense products. Currently most of the military jet engines produced in Russia are exported to China. Beijing is also one of the only prospective customers for a slew of new-generation Russian weapon systems. Taking legal action against their Asian fellow travellers can only mean that that the drop in defense exports to China, which has fallen by more than 60 percent in recent years, will become even more pronounced.

During a lending crisis one will hear that “if you borrow $5,000 the bank owns you, but if you borrow $5 million you own the bank.” Transposed to the situation in Russia’s defense industry, this means that there is little Moscow can do to reverse the situation it now finds itself in. Having invested so much in its defense business with China, Moscow would find it almost impossible to cut these ties and give up this market entirely.

At the same time, the price for staying in the Chinese market is like a high-stakes poker game. Giving up what you have already thrown into the pot on the bet that you can get Beijing to finance a next generation of military technology. The risks are high for Russian industry–and even higher for the rest of the world. The question now is where will the market for Russian weaponry on the international market end–and that for products made in China (based on what they have learned from Russia) begin? The answer will depend on who is more clever–the Russians or the pirates–in this next round.