Still Has it All; Russia Too Cutting-Edge for America or WTO

All right!! Russia has caught on to the wonderful world of fast-food chains!!! Now I can live comfortably knowing I can always have a cheeseburger to remind me of home when traveling abroad. Globalization has made it that much easier to be ignorant toward foreign food, which sucks anyway! No more pitas unless they're filled with cut-up hot dogs!!

But even with Mickey D's, Russia has still been unable to join the prestigious World Trade Organization, and the U.S. is one country keeping Russia from getting into the party. One reason is because of TMT's favorite topic: the differences in copyright laws!!! Russia's copyright laws work like this: music may be sold through the internet without any copyright infringement police knocking at your door yelling at you in Russian. Russian police don't yell at you in Russian because of Russian rights agencies, like the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society (ROMS) and the Rightholders Federation for Collective Copyright Management of Works Used Interactively (FAIR). (How do these agencies acronyms-ize into ROMS and FAIR anyway? Probably witches.)

These agencies collect royalties from websites selling music and send a portion of that money (but not as much as in the U.S.) to the record companies. This has created a loophole in which websites are allowed to release anything — because they're paying "rights," but not really as much as the RIAA loves to get — until the record companies exclusively ask them to exclude their works from their licenses. This, of course, cheats out the American recording industry. As the Russians would say in Russian: "We're not selling hard goods, so we don't need permission from the author and do not have to pay for the amount the recording industries ask for." It's Russia; they do whatever the hell they want. What witches!

But, tricky tricky are the witches. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has been trying to shut down websites which use ROMS and FAIR to sell music online, and they're targeting one of the bigger Russian websites, allows you to download an album for the price of one of those fast-food double-cheeseburgers they're munching on in Russia right now. (They're fatties, totally!!)

See, this site doesn't charge per-song, but per-megabyte: 2 cents each. So these rates add up to basically $2 max for an album. Oh, and it should be mentioned that music there is generally cheap anyway: albums bought in Russia cost about 100 rubles, which is about $3.

But in order for Russia to be able to join Satan's WTO (that's right, I said it!), it needs to shut down sites that sell music for such cheap prices. Trying its darnedest, Russia has recently passed new copyright laws that allow the government to prosecute owners of websites selling digital music. However, it still cannot prosecute websites like that pay rights agencies. That's still not breaking the law. As long as someone is getting paid — no matter how much — it's completely legal.

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