Russian court sentences businessman for Microsoft piracy

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Moscow, May 30 (UNI) Russia court has given a three-year suspended sentence to a local businessman Mikhail Shvets who traded pirated Microsoft software.

The regional prosecutor's office said in a statement late last night that by producing and selling pirated discs, Shvets inflicted damages to the copyright holders exceeding 211,000 million dollars Last month, the Russian Interior Ministry reported that copyright piracy in Russia, which has been a major obstacle to the country joining the World Trade Organization, dropped 15 per cent in 2007.

Clamping down on computer piracy is a demand of Russia's negotiating partners for its WTO entry.

Russia, the second-largest market for pirated products after China, has been strongly criticised internationally for its failure to protect intellectual property rights.

Over 4,000 people were arrested in 2007, and more than 800 people in January-March this year for breaching copyright laws, Vladimir Lukyanov, Deputy Head of the Ministry's Economic Security department, said last month.

Almost four million counterfeit items, mainly computer software, DVDs and CDs, worth an estimated 8 million dollars were seized in 2007.

Last year, Alexander Ponosov, a school principal in a small town in the Perm Region, was charged with copyright violation after he bought a set of computers for his school containing unlicensed Microsoft software.

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