As someone who has lived in Russia, I’m confident in saying that bootlegging copyrighted intellectual property is the least of the criminal activity the Kremlin has to worry about. I taught at a liberal arts school for rich Mafia children. I saw firsthand how the rich enjoy their ill-gained riches, and the poor continue to suffer with ridiculously low wages, and never quite enough money for equipment and learning materials. (Sniff, sniff, sigh.)
Recently Alexander Ponosov, a small-town Russian school director inthe Ural Mountains region of Perm, has been ordered to stand trial forallegedly installing bootleg versions of the Windows operating systemand Microsoft Office software onto school computers for his students to use. He says the computers came with the software already
Both Russian and Western authorities agree that Russia -- the biggest producer of pirated goods after China -- needs to be tougher on bootleggers of audio recordings, DVDs and software. The question is whom should authorities get tougher on? Most distributors know if they are selling a bootleg copy, but many buyers don’t know the difference, or don’t understand the full legal ramifications.
I’ll admit it, when I lived in Russia I would often buy cheap copies of popular movies and CDs. Many were nearly indistinguishable from the original. It didn’t occur to me, at the time, that I was part of an international illegal trade network. As a consumer, should anyone be expected to verify the authenticity of all the products they buy? Should police go after housewives sporting their “Louie Vuitton” handbags they bought for $20 in New York on vacation? I know there are two sides to the debate, but I do know this: when a poor Russian school director gets “lynched” as a scapegoat for a multi-billion dollar “business”…something’s wrong. Post a comment and let others know your take on the issue. Posted by Rebecca Sato.
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