Two married Muscovites who ran the now closed down BitTorrent tracker Interfilm is facing up to 6 years in prison, as movie studios claims that the couple has cost them over 38 billion Rubles in damages, which translates to around USD$1.25 billion.
With Russia currently negotiating with the US to enter the WTO, the announcement by Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin to charge the married couple, Andrew and Natalia Lopukhovs, under Part 3 of Article 146 of the Criminal Code has been seen by critics as Russia's way to show they too can be tough on piracy. Russia is currently listed by the US as a "notorious piracy market".
The Lopukhovs were identified by Russian authorities as the operators of Interfilm when, intriguingly, when "foreign sources" provided them with a complete copy of the the website files and database. The legality of such evidence is in doubt, as the files have obviously been obtained without the permission of the owners, the Lopukhovs, and nor appears to have been recovered after the required legal processes.
However, while movie studios continue to claim exorbitant amount of damages (usually derived by multiplying the number of copies of movies downloaded by the full retail price of the movie, by assuming all downloaders would have been paying customers), Russian authorities are not seeking a multi-billion dollar fine. Under the law the couple has been charged with, they are only liable for a maximum fine of 500,000 Rubles (USD$16,400), but could face up to 6 years in prison.