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Russia considers $30,000 fines to help sap thriving web piracy

All those enjoying unrestricted music and movie downloads in Russia may have to change their old habits. The country's Ministry of Culture has threatened to punish online pirates with fines of up to $30,000.

Online piracy has become so common in Russia that even experienced and internationally-known heavyweights in music and film industry have long given up counting on any serious profit from the sales of their products here.

“For Russian people it's kind of obvious to download music for free now on the internet and they don't have such a thing in their mentality to support artists you like, buy records, CDs, vynils...”
musician Yury Makarychev told RT.
According to official statistics, a staggering 99 per cent of online media content in Russia is counterfeit. Up to seven out of 10 citizens confirm they choose to download for free.
In 2010, one of the largest and oldest film studios in Europe, Russia’s giant Mosfilm, gave free access to over 500 films from its golden collection, hoping to fight piracy.

“The financial losses are just as big as the black market itself. And not only for cinema, but music, literature - everything connected with intellectual property. It's simply impossible to calculate how much we all lose until it's legalized,” the head of the Mosfilm Studios, Karen Shakhnazarov, told RT.
The illegal media market doesn’t just rip off the entertainment industries' profits. It is also affecting the way future projects get financed, with a number of private investors scared off by the growing number of pirates.

“We believe that without piracy films would be able to return twice the investment - state AND private. While, say, one month after a movie premieres in cinemas, it could be released on to the web for free, but with adverts. And legally,” the head of Channel 1 Konstantin Ernst stated.

Last year alone, the Russian government invested over two hundred million dollars in the domestic film industry. But even such scale of investment fails to draw audiences into theaters and away from the pirates.
Watch Egor Piskunov's full report for more.