updated 2/14/2006 9:52:24 AM ET 2006-02-14T14:52:24

Pirated films, music and software in Russia cost U.S. companies nearly $1.8 billion in 2005, according to a report by a coalition of U.S. copyright-holders.

"Russia's copyright piracy problem remains one of the world's most serious. Piracy rates for most sectors are estimated at around 70 percent to 80 percent in 2005 and losses continue to be staggering," the International Intellectual Property Association said in a statement released late Monday.

Despite largely bringing its intellectual property laws into line with international norms and treaties, enforcement in Russia remains weak. Stalls selling pirated music and software as well as DVDs of the latest Hollywood films can be found throughout the Russian capital and other cities.

Business software was worst hit in Russia, according to the IIPA, with losses of $748 million. Music piracy cost companies $475 million, while film makers lost some $266 million last year. Losses from entertainment software piracy clocked in at $224 million, the IIPA said.

"Repeated efforts by industry and the U.S. government over many years to provide meaningful and deterrent enforcement of its copyright and other laws ... have yielded little progress," the statement said.

Intellectual property violations continue to dog Russia's World Trade Organization membership talks with the United States — one of the last countries with which it remains to strike a deal.

The IIPA said it had called on U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman to revoke trade benefits worth $400 million a year that Russia enjoys under the General System of Preferences. Though frequently cited, the threat of revoking the benefits has yet to be imposed.

The piracy situation in China, the world's worst offender, remains "dire," the IIPA said. Copyright violations in China are estimated to have cost U.S. businesses $2.37 billion.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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