31 May 2021

Court Clarified Criteria for Classifying Series of Films as Independent Works


The IPR Court overturned the decisions of the lower instances and forwarded the case of compensation for infringement of the exclusive rights to 35 series of the film for reconsideration. The basis for the new examination was the failure to investigate the possibility of considering the series as an independent object of copyright.

The TV channel sued to recover compensation for infringement of the exclusive rights to a series of animated multi-part film in the amount of 350,000 rubles, basing calculations on the amount of 10,000 rubles per series.

The courts of the first and appellate instances considered it reasonable to charge half of this amount of compensation.

However, due to the fact that the rules were applied incorrectly and all material factual circumstances were not established, the Court for Intellectual Property Rights (hereinafter the IPR Court) referred the case for reconsideration to the court of first instance, reversing the adopted acts.

The key issue in the case was the qualification of the result(s) of intellectual activity in relation to which the violation was committed.

The IPR Court emphasized that, as a general rule, an audiovisual work is a complex object of copyright that contains several results of intellectual activity featuring unity, such as a single creative concept and characters and a common storyline in the script.

The IPR Court also referred to paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Review of Judicial Practice, approved by the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on September 23, 2015, according to which illegal use of part of a work is a violation of the exclusive right to the work as a whole, if it is not proved that part of the work is an independent object of protection. 

At the same time, as the court explained, the right holder has the right to take measures to rebut this presumption. The plaintiff, however, did not take such measures, which prevented the recognition of the series as independent works and, consequently, the calculation of the number of violations by the number of used series. 

Sergey Zuykov, the Managing Partner of Zuykov & Partners, Russian Patent Attorney and Eurasian Patent Attorney commented that since the possibility of attributing a series of audiovisual work to the objects of copyright depends on whether it is in its nature an independent result of creative work, resulting in the possibility of its use regardless of the work as a whole, then in each case, it should be established whether such objects have such characteristics.

As noted in paragraph 81 of the Resolution of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of April 23, 2019 N 10, copyright subject to clause 7 of Article 1259 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation applies to any parts of works, if they retain their recognizability as part of a particular work when used separately from the work as a whole, and by themselves, separately from the work as a whole, can be recognized as an independent result of the creative work of the author and expressed in objective form.

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