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Regular version of the site

Article

Criteria for Copyrightability in Russian Copyright Doctrine and Judicial Practice

Russian Law Journal. 2016. Vol. IV. No. 2. P. 26-61.

This article analyzes the current state of debates on minimum levels of creativity needed for works to be copyrightable, including dominant principles in Russian jurisprudence and judicial practice, principal trends, and contradictions and dysfunctions that arise in the course of implementation of various criteria of copyrightability.

An analysis of the judicial practice of recent years warrants the conclusion that standards of creativity as a criterion of copyrightability have dropped drastically. Today’s standards are similar to those of the former American sweat of the brow doctrine.

But, unlike foreign legal systems that set comparatively low standards of protectability, the Russian judiciary has not yet evolved mechanisms of compensation for risks of monopolization of public domain content.

First of all, there is no practice of granting exclusive rights to a work that is similar to an earlier work but has been created independently. Secondly, the practice of refusing protection to non-unique, standard, generally known, and generally available content is dwindling away. Thirdly, there is a trend to give a large scope of protection to works of low authorship.

As a result, exclusive rights are granted to standard or generally accessible content – content that must belong to the public domain, - which puts unjustified restrictions on the creative activities of other authors. Moreover, it makes their legal status unpredictable as it lays the basis for unintended but penalized copyright violations. This amounts to a classical case of overprotection.