iTunes film offerings break copyright laws

Apple's iTunes service is offering films for download without the consent of the copyright holders, according to a BBC report.

Many Russian films made during the Soviet era are available on iTunes as smartphone apps. The posters know they don't have permission to offer the films but are doing so anyway. And Apple, with its usually scrupulous vetting of anything appearing on its online shelves, has been caught with its pants down this time around.

Apple seems to have responded to a call from the BBC though, telling the state-run broadcaster that it began to look into the matter as soon as it received a complaint.

A number of films on offer include such classic as Kin-dza-dza, Gentlemen of Fortune, Assa, and Cheburashka.

A spokeswoman for the film makers told the BBC: "It is illegal to present our films as applications either in iTunes or on any other Internet site. It is permitted only on our own Mosfilm site.

"The only official Internet site where you can watch legal Mosfilm content is the Mosfilm site," she said. "There are no third parties which we have permitted to use our content.

"Maybe Apple will take appropriate measures and help us solve the problem," she added.

Apple spokeswoman Christine Monaghan told bbcrussian.com that the company would investigate the matter.

"We understand the importance of protecting intellectual property and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately", she flannelled.

One iTunes peddler of Russian films, named as Vladimir Penshin told the BBC's Russian Service: "Of course, I do not have any license agreement".

He added: "This is all very simple. The companies, who can have complaints, submit them to Apple and Apple notifies me that they have to withdraw the application.

"I realise that this is wrong," he said. "Maybe I am breaking the law."