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Music Publisher Sues VimpelCom for Copyright Infringement

SBA Music Publishing is suing VimpelCom in the Moscow Arbitration Court, accusing the telecommunications giant of copyright infringement.

Olga Kim, a deputy CEO of SBA, a subsidiary of Gala Records, told Vedomosti that the record label is seeking 500,000 rubles ($16,150) in damages after an SBA-owned song appeared in an advertising campaign linked to VimpelCom this summer.

The song was used without SBA's authorization in a promotional video that appeared on YouTube, and SBA was not compensated, Kim said, adding that VimpelCom had refused to settle the matter out of court.

VimpelCom spokeswoman Anna Aibasheva said the  video, which contained footage of a performance by pop singer Bianka at a promotional event organized by the company's Saransk branch, was posted online by the event's organizers, and she denied that VimpelCom played any part in posting the clip on the Internet.

When questioned by Vedomosti reporters, legal experts said the copyright-infringement case is without precedent in Russian legal practice.

Yury Zlobin, head of the anti-piracy association Russky Shchit, said it would be extremely difficult for SBA to prove that VimpelCom had paid for the video or that it was used for advertising purposes.

He said it had not been posted on any online sources associated with the company. The video is no longer accessible on YouTube.

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