Russia's denies copyright violations

The operator of a Russian Web site that sells music cheaply went on a media offensive to deny accusations that it violates copyrights on songs by major artists, according to an Associated Press report

In an online exchange with reporters, representatives from Moscow-based Mediaservices, which owns the Web site, asserted it is running a legitimate business, the Associated Press report said.

'The company has been unfairly characterized as a pirate Web site,' Vadim Mamotin, the firm's director general, said through a translator. 'Nothing could be further from the truth.' typically charges under $1 for an entire album and just cents per track. By contrast, an album at Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store and other licensed services typically costs about $10 and a song $0.99 cents.

Mediaservices maintains that it pays taxes in Russia and that 15% of every sale is sent as royalties to the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society, a licensing body it claims is responsible for compensating copyright owners, the Associated Press report said.

The society has 'offered to pay the record companies the royalties they collected but (has) been rebuffed,' said Mamotin, who asserted the recording industry is trying to gain leverage before entering direct negotiations with Mediaservices or the licensing group.

By paying royalties to the licensing group, Mediaservices claims is in compliance with Russian laws.

However, the company has never had a license from major recording companies to sell music in the first place, a requirement under US copyright laws.

The music industry also contends that the Russian licensing group doesn't have the authority to collect and distribute royalties, the report further said.