Lawyers assesses the prospects for a copyright lawsuit against the Mariinsky Theater

In most cases, copyright claims by claimants are refuted because it turns out that the claimants do not in fact have rights to the work in dispute. This was stated to Izvestia on March 6 by lawyer Sergei Zhorin, commenting on a copyright lawsuit against the Mariinsky Theater from choreographer Nela Nazirova.

Copyright arises from the moment a work is created. And if the author’s rights are violated, he has the right to go to court with a claim to the defendant for damages and elimination of the violation, the lawyer said.

“But when applying to the court, the author needs to prove that he has these rights. This will be examined in detail in court. And he must also prove that the work, which, in his opinion, violates his rights, was borrowed from him or processed without his knowledge, ”said Zhorin.

In most cases, it turns out that the work that caused the dispute has nothing to do with the work of the applicant, the specialist noted, advising the parties “to enter into a dialogue in a pre-trial order.”

In turn, the general director of the law firm IPCodex, associate arbitrator of the Arbitration Center at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) Natalya Polianchik told Izvestia that the copyright term is valid during the life of the author and for 70 years from the year of his death. She also noted that the Azerbaijan SSR, where the rights to the disputed work were registered, was previously part of a single state – the USSR.

“And the rights to the works of authors living in the territory of the AzSSR at the time of the creation of the work, of course, are subject to protection in the Russian Federation,” she said.

The specialist pointed out that the current legislation does not require the registration of works, so the author will prove authorship during the trial using the available evidence (such as, for example, earlier publications of the work, the author’s indications on the posters of previously staged ballets, etc.).

“According to the general rules of Russian procedural law, a claim must be filed with the court at the location of the defendant — in this case, the Mariinsky Theater — or its branches, if the use of the work is carried out by the branch,” Polianchik said.

The Mariinsky Theater has not yet responded to Izvestia’s request for this situation.

Earlier March 6 edition “Business Petersburg” reported that the Oktyabrsky District Court of St. Petersburg ordered a cultural examination regarding a dispute that arose between the 86-year-old choreographer and choreographer Nela Nazirova and the Mariinsky Theater.

According to Nazirova, when staging and showing the ballet A Thousand and One Nights on August 14, 2020, on its Primorsky Stage in Vladivostok, the Mariinsky Theater used a libretto that she created in collaboration with Maksud and Rustam Ibragimbekov in 1978. The choreographer notes that the rights to the work were registered by the Azerbaijani branch of the All-Union Copyright Agency and when the performance was shown, the theater did not ask for the consent of the choreographer to use the work. And, besides, he did not even indicate her name among the co-authors of the libretto.

The plaintiff asked the court to ban the Mariinsky Theater from using the libretto, and also to recover from the defendant compensation of 2 million rubles for violation of the exclusive right and 100 thousand rubles as compensation for non-pecuniary damage. Nazirova currently lives in France.

According to media reports, the cultural institution objects to the satisfaction of this claim, stating that the libretto for this ballet was written exclusively by Maksud and Rustam Ibragimbekov, and the rights to this work were registered back in 1968.

Earlier, on November 27, 2022, it was reported that the owners of the rights to the songs of the musician Viktor Tsoi and the Agatha Christie group demanded that the chords for musical works be removed from the site with guitar chords Also, the requirement to remove chords extended to the songs of the Nautilus Pompilius group and the singer Zivert. It was reported that LLC “First Musical Publishing House” and LLC “National Musical Publishing House” are the copyright holders for the use of works and lyrics of these songs and have the right to prohibit third parties from posting these materials on the Web.

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