MOSCOW -- Russia has become one of the biggest centers of pirated compact discs, prompting Russian and international music industry leaders to join forces to fight the cheap knockoffs.
"The piracy situation here is both frightening and daunting," John Kennedy, president of Universal Music International, said Wednesday. Slack enforcement of copyright laws, he said, "has made Russia today one of the biggest pirate centers in the world."
Kennedy said 18 illegal CD factories are operating on Russian territory, cranking out millions of knockoffs that are sold openly across the country. Russia's music piracy business is worth $240 million a year, making it second in size only to that in China, he said.
Kennedy and other members of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a recording industry trade group, are teaming up with a new Russian organization to promote tougher enforcement of copyright and intellectual property laws. The new Russian group, the National Federation of Phonogram Producers, says it accounts for about 70 percent of Russia's recording industry.
The groups said the first step is to close the illegal CD factories. Many of the plants were first opened in Bulgaria and Ukraine, but relocated to Russia after they passed stricter laws.