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Copyright protection in Russia

Copyright protection is one of the central pillars of intellectual property protection operating around the world today. It is fundamentally the most different, as it does not require any specific or compulsory registration to grant a copyright.

Namely, copyright is immediately granted to the author of any works, upon their completion, as long as three simple criteria are fulfilled:

  • the work must be the result of intellectual activity of the author;
  • a product of creative endeavour;
  • fixed in a tangible medium of expression such as written works, public performance, sound recording etc.

So far, so simple

To qualify for copyright protection in the Russian Federation it must be either authored by a Russian national, first published in Russia, or published in a country which is also party to the same relevant international treaties as Russia, namely, the Berne convention. Works are encompassed but are not exhausted by the list featured in part VI of the Russian Federation civil code.

Most notably this includes literary works (including computer programs), musical pieces with or without lyrics, audio-visual products (feature, television and video films, slideshows, transparency films and other cinematography and television products), paintings, designs, works of architecture, photography works, topography and databases.

How does copyright protection work in practice?

The law of copyright is extensive on paper but is by far the most challenging aspect of intellectual property law protection in practice. The ‘WIPO’ model offers, from the date of creation to the death of the author +70 years protection. Similarly, robust protection is offered for so-called ‘neighbouring rights’ which encompass performances, phonograms and broadcasts and are valid for the lifetime of the performer not less than 50 years.

But, the internet has made the practice of copyright protection very difficult. Where once infringers may have made individual recordings of a friend’s cassette, now anonymous users can, within seconds, access and download digitally copyrighted content at no cost. Weighed heavily in favour of music, film and TV and computer software, media companies are understandably prickly that their property is infringed with such abandon. For this reason, it has become the international battleground of copyright holders, wishing to assert their rights, to only marginal effect.

The internet: copyright holders not welcome here!

There are steps you can take to reinforce your rights and we would be happy to advise your best course of action. We can help take various actions and remedies on your behalf. For example, computer software, topography and database protection is best served by registering with the Russian patent office. This leaves no doubt in the eyes of the law regarding authorship. All other copyright protection can be strengthened by deposition of said works with a competent agency recognised by the courts, one such example being the Russian Authors society. Successful receipt of this will give the depositor a presumption of ownership, evidence which can be used later, in court if necessary to assert rights in any case of infringement or dispute.

The battle is just getting started.

Federal law 187, brought into force in 2013, has offered necessary and faster remedies to online protection for all audiovisual content. Under the new terms, copyright owners may seek a preliminary injunction of up to 15 days against infringing content, without notice. If granted Roskomnadzor will request the content is removed. If there is non-compliance after three days they can block the entire website. This offers a speedy resolution which has previously been lacking in an arena well known for being extremely transitory.

What about the author?

The other unique area concerning copyright is the fact that there is a division of rights, incorporating ‘authors rights’ and ‘economic rights’. These can reside with the same person but often do not. Copyrights created underemployment, for example, would give economic rights to the owner/company, whilst still maintaining the authors ‘moral rights’. These rights are inalienable - even after economic rights are reassigned, authors rights will always remain.

In order to make sure economic rights transfers are certain, we can assist you in drawing up any license, assignment or franchise agreements you may wish to make. This advice is equally relevant to CIS members and foreign copyright holders as the internet does not observe legal borders in the same way that the law does, internet service providers are still liable for content however.

By every means necessary!

We can facilitate any rights owners by engaging in a variety of measures, judicial or otherwise, to prevent illegal use of your rights. This could include submitting notices to the infringing parties, preparing lawsuits to relevant courts or law enforcement bodies for infringement actions. We can also assist in blocking or removing copyrighted content online when discovered. Litigation can be costly but in most cases this is far outstripped by the potential economic loss incurred from copyright ‘piracy.’ With our assistance, strike now in defence of your copyright. Don’t hesitate in engaging with our expert attorneys in Russia.