Protection of intellectual property rights in Russia

In mid-May 2010 the Business Software Alliance – BSA from the U.S. in conjunction with the International Research Corporation (IDC) have published the results of the Seventh Annual Study of the software piracy in the world (Seventh Annual BSA/IDC Global 2009 Software Piracy Study).
According to the study, despite the economic crisis, in 2009 the level of software piracy dropped in 54 countries and increased in 19 out of 111 of the investigated countries. This global level of disturbance (percentage of programs used without a license) has increased to 43% from 41% in 2008. This happened, according to BSA, mainly due to accelerated (as compared with the developed countries) market growth of information and communication technologies in the fastest growing economies, the dynamics of which directly affect also the growth/decline of country assessments of the commercial value of illegally installed software (SW). The growing markets on BRIC countries are of particular interest to exporters from the developed countries.

Indicators of software piracy in the BRIC countries in 2009


Country  Piracy level, % Changes versus 2008, p.p. Rank among the surveyed countries
Commercial value of unlicensed software,
USD mln 
Changes versus 2008, USD mln 
Total, worldwide  43 +2 –  51411  -1587
in BRIC countries 
 67 -1.75  –  14453  -852
Brazil  56 -2 65–67  2254 +609
India  65 -3 54–55  2003 -765
Russia  67 -1 47–51  2613 -1602
China  79 -1 32–36  7583 +906

*Specified for each country range means that it shares them with the similar indicators of other states
Source: Seventh Annual BSA/IDC Global 2009 Software Piracy Study, Washington., D.C., May 10, 2010, рр.14-15; сайт BSA  

Factors influencing the policies of companies of rapidly developing economies on standards of intellectual property protection (IP), BSA is in general bound with law enforcement and legislative actions, as well as with the activity of foreign owners. Formulated in the monitoring BSA/ IDC approach is based on the idea that the decision of companies/individuals on compliance with the rules protecting intellectual property rights is directly related to the probability of detecting violations, prosecution and sanctions of enforcement agencies in the country.

According to the Association, in 2009 the number of detected unlicensed software installed on personal computers (PCs) in Russia reached 67% (reduction of 1 percentage point as compared with 2008), which is justified by the economic crisis. In terms of this indicator descending, Russia has shared, like in 2008, the 47-51 ratings with Brunei, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Ecuador. For comparison: in 2004 Russia occupied the 7-th position in the rating. i.e. within five years there has been a visible progress. However, the commercial value of illegally used software in Russia (estimated in terms of financial loss of the rights of holders) in the last year was estimated at USD 2.6 billion (in 2008 - USD 4.2 billion). As a result, Russia again took the third position in the world after the U.S. and China in terms of the scale of damage to the rights holders.

At the end of April 2010 there was also published an annual survey of "Article 301 - Special" U.S. Trade Act of 1974 (Office of US Trade Representative Special 301 Report, Washington, DC, April 30, 2010), prepared by the Staff Trade Representative ( ATP), the United States. Traditionally, this document, devoted to the analysis of the situation with the protection of the rights of American copyright holders abroad, is characterized by a more "aggressive" content, in contrast to the results of BSA/IDC monitoring. The survey for 2009 has revealed the concern of U.S. ATP among 41 out of 76 surveyed countries (in 2008 - 46 out of 77), which, depending on the efficiency and adequacy of protection of IP rights have been assigned to several categories of offenders.

In respect to the Russian Federation and 10 other states (in 2008 - 12 in total) included in the "Priority observed" group, the possibility of introducing economic and trade sanctions by depriving the user status of the General System of Preferences (GSP) for national exporters, which leads to difficulty or a more expensive way for the American market. The GSP head office is administered by the U.S. ATP, which allows to use this tool to provide political pressure on various aspects of foreign economic relations with foreign partners in the United States.

The list of "the reviewed states" in the survey (i.e., more "successful" in terms of IP rights protection), including the 29 U.S. trading partners (33 in 2009), such as Belarus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine among them, although in these states, ATP was recorded at a higher level of counterfeiting than in Russia.

Studies of BSA/IDC are volatile for Russia in the recent years, and the results of annual surveys conducted by the U.S. ATP under special article 301, are kept at the permanent level in the last 11 years. One reason for this is a different approach to estimation of piracy and effectiveness of combating thereof, coupled with the appointment of the reviews of these structures. The level of piracy and counterfeiting indicators is largely influenced by the main tasks of those organizations in the context of U.S. trade policy toward Russia, including accession to the WTO.

N.P. Volovik, Deputy Head of the IET External Economic Activity Laboratory 
Yu.A. Potanina, Senior Researcher of the External Trade Issues under Academy of National Trade