Russia makes copyright pledge to US

Out-Law News | 15 Nov 2006 | 10:10 am | 1 min. read

Russia will sign a copyright protection accord with the US as part of its bid to be admitted to the World Trade Organisation, Russian trade minister German Gref has said. The accord will be signed separately to other agreements on WTO membership.

The US has long objected to Russia joining the WTO because of trade tariffs on US goods and, more recently, because its copyright law is seen as being out of step with that of the US. Renegade music download site, which claims to comply with Russian law, has been the best-known indicator of the legal gulf between the nations' laws.

It is thought that the controversial site, which sells music downloads but only pays royalties into a fund not recognised by most European or US collection societies, has been the subject of discussions between Russia and the US at political levels as high as that of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

"A separate copyright protection accord will be signed," Gref told press in Russia.

Russia hopes to agree a bilateral deal with the US on its entry into the WTO. Though that does not guarantee entry,  the opposition of the US is the main stumbling block for the largest economy outside of the WTO still to be refused entry.

Russian politicians hope to have a deal with the US ready to sign next week when Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President George Bush meet at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.

"The task you set was to complete all negotiations in order to ensure the signing of the document in time for your meeting with President Bush in Hanoi," said Gref in a cabinet meeting with Putin televised in Russia. "We have every chance of issuing all the documents and completing all technical work by this time. We will do everything to ensure the signing at your meeting."

The two sides had hoped to announce a deal at this summer's G8 summit in St Petersburg, but agriculture issues blocked the deal. The main trade issues the US has with Russia are believed to be Russian obstacles to the importing of US poultry, beef and pork.