Russian law protects the rights of performers, and this policy is reflected in the activities of a number of collective rights management organisations. One such organisation is the All-Russian Society for Intellectual Property (VOIS –  which is identical to the Russian acronym for the World Intellectual Property Organisation).

VOIS monitored activity at McDonald's restaurants for some time before launching action against it. The representatives of collective rights management organisations frequent restaurants and monitor the music played. Usually, they then demand that the restaurant pay a fee in favour of the author or performer whose music it played. The fee is $2 for each seat in the restaurant for recorded music, or $3 for live music.

VOIS initiated a court action against McDonald's;  the hearing took place on March 20 2014. VOIS claimed around $20,000 based on 31 phonograms, each at a value of around $700. VOIS submitted video evidence and a list of musical works. However, McDonald's argued that it had entered into a contract to play the music with Media and Advertisement Stream Technology (MAST), which in turn had a contract with Mood Media North America, a licensee of the musical compositions at issue.

The Moscow court dismissed VOIS's claims. On the back of the success of this court action, MAST has now filed suit against the Ministry of Culture, which gave accreditation to VOIS. MAST is claiming that VOIS obtained accreditation in violation of the law.

The developments in this case will be followed with interest. Whatever happens, it seems that few will be sorry if VOIS's accreditation is revoked.

Vladimir Biriulin

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.