The Timiryazevsky District Court in Moscow will consider the case of a couple who is accused of distributing $1.2 billion worth of illegal copies of Hollywood movies over the internet, the Russian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
According to investigators, the defendants bought pirated copies of films from foreigners. The hits abroad are released a few months earlier than in Russia. The couple made unlicensed translations and sold copies of the films for a small fee on interfilm.ru, a website they had created. The site was shut down in May 2009.
“With the assistance of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization, investigators contacted the foreign rights holders, who estimated the cost of copyright infringement at the amount of more than 37 billion rubles ($1.2 billion),” the ministry said in a statement.
A criminal case was initiated under Part 3 of Article 146 of the Russian Criminal Code (violation of copyright and related rights). If found guilty, the couple could face up to six years in prison.
Runet, a moniker for Russia's internet sector, has been largely free of government controls compared with traditional media. Intellectual property violations have long served as a major hurdle to Russia's entry to WTO, as reputed piracy lairs in Russia remain largely untouched.