Last week a Russian court ordered the publisher Astrel to pay 7.6 billion rubles (around £160 million) to Terra, another publisher, for copyright infringement. Astrel had published books by Alexander Belyayev, ‘whose novels Amphibian Man and Professor Dowell's Head enjoyed immense popularity in Soviet times and still have a devoted following’ (Moscow Times).
It is not just the titles of the author’s books that is worthy of note, however, but also the method of calculating damages:
Number of copies sold by Astrel x £2400 approx (price of claimant’s luxury six-volume leather-bound edition)
Astrel’s edition sold for around £3.40.
The judgment may be intended to demonstrate Russia’s willingness to take IP enforcement seriously – an issue blocking its entry to the World Trade Organization. But how reassuring will the WTO find this financial methodology?