$1.2 Billion Anti-Piracy Suit Filed in Russia

Hollywood majors and local players hope it could create an important precedent in fighting online piracy.

MOSCOW– The highest profile criminal case for copyright infringement is launched in Russia, which Hollywood majors and local players hope could create an important precedent in fighting online piracy.

The country’s general prosecutor’s office has accused Andrei and Natalia Lopukhov, a Moscow-based married couple, of illegal online distribution of features and animated films through the web sites interfilm.ru and puzkarapuz.ru back in 2007 and 2008. The prosecutors claim that the damages caused by the Lopukhovs for their activities during nearly 18 months caused the damages of 38 billion roubles ($1.24 billion), which makes the case the biggest ever copyright lawsuit in Russia.

The films illegally distributed by the defendants include, among many others, Shrek the Third, Resident Evil: Extinction and 28 Weeks Later.

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Among the companies whose movies were illegally distributed are 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney Enterprises, Sony Pictures and Universal, as well as the domestic film producers Central Partnership, Riki, STV and Paradiz.

“We don’t disclose the figure [of our claims], but our calculations were based on the values of relevant deals with [legitimate] video services,” Zlata Polishchuk, executive vice president of Central Partnership, which also represents Paramount in the Russian market, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The plaintiffs don’t expect that the damages could be actually paid to them but hope that the case could create an important precedent that would help to fight online piracy in the future.

“A lawsuit of such a high value has been filed for the first time here,” Alexei Ryazantsev, general director of Karo Premier, which represents Warner Bros. in the Russian market, told THR. “It is unlikely that the damages will be paid, but the case could really scare off some people and dissuade them from pirate activities in the future.”

A date for court hearings has not yet been set.




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