Mattelart assesses the current state of audiovisual piracy, citing a French article by Ilya Kiriya on arguing Russia’s place in protecting copyrights. Specifically, he looks at the immediate post-Soviet time period and why the established piracy industries were not addressed by the international community until well into the 21st century, rather than in the 1990s.
This article follows a round table Managing IP had with several Russian experts on IP and copyright. There was much discussion on whether Part IV would help or hurt Russian copyright law. The general consensus was that the code, in large part, didn’t change from the previous law. In addition, because current amendments were being proposed to the old copyright laws, those amendments would need to go through a new process to amend Part IV. There was much criticism that, due to haste, these amendments were not included in the first place. One comment that struck me was from Yuri Mikhailichenko, who was the Executive Secretary of the Expert Council on Legal Regulation and Protection of Intellectual Property for the State Duma. His observation is that Part IV “is a document which has increased the interest of Russian society in IP and is a signal that the government and president are looking at the problem and trying to do something (Managing IP 50).” It would seem that Part IV is largely made to placate the world, as Russia was working on joining the WTO at the time; rather than make serious strides to resolving some of its copyright issues. Further on, there is a discussion on why IP was included in civil law, rather than criminal with a good citing of the issues surrounding the music industry. In essence, current enforcement takes too long and the punishments amount to a pittance of the possible income. These fines currently do not serve as a deterrent for the crimes committed.
This book review of G. Gregory Letterman’s Basics of International Property Law summarizes the field of intellectual property, in addition to commenting on the priorities of governments in relation to the protection of IP.
Komaromi’s article looks to define samizdat more completely and how the term can be misleading when assessing the impact of Soviet dissidents on the fall of the Soviet Union. I include this article to juxtapose the differences between audiovisual and text cultures in the development of the underground Soviet cultural movement.
Simon investigates the constraint which copyright law has placed on creativity. He argues that, for those immersed in culture, the process of creation has not necessarily been inspired by the idea to make money, but rather, by other forces – religious, spiritual, personality, collaboration. He expands on the external forces which help an artist to create to find fault in the copyright process, viewing it as a force which denies self-expression.
With the possible constraints copyright places on individual creativity are valid and the fear of retribution for infringement real, this causes me to ruminate on similar issues which occurred during the Soviet Union. Creativity in music was stifled, so the initial rock movements inspired by Beatlemania developed underground. That being said, neither account for the current use and replication of others’ creative works and the state of piracy, which points to the true foundation of copyright, which is economic and proprietary.
This report chronicles the changing nature of IP, due to rapid innovation. While it focuses on technology, science, and university patents and innovation; it is interesting to note some of the broader issues facing IP and copyright that transcend all fields. Chapter 1 looks at growing levels of integration and the effect of globalization on IP. It does conclude that collaboration would be beneficial, in terms of innovation. I found Chapter 4 helpful in assessing the current state of IP activity in the world, as it investigates university patent applications and licensing based on nations’ income level. By classifying them as such, it is a method of assessing the culture’s treatment of IP. As a result of recent economic booms, it does classify China and Russia as middle income, yet they still retain some of their former underground cultures, which don’t fully invest in the notion that IP is important to preserve.
Throsby begins his chapter on the impact of intellectual property on cultural policy by the observation that “[Copyright] does not cover ideas, but rather the form in which those ideas are expressed or ‘fixed’ (Throsby 199). With the dawn of the internet age, the specific definition he assigns becomes an important distinction when thinking in the terms of the life of an artistic work. For example, Leonard Bernstein wrote his “Candide” based on Voltaire’s work, similarly Peter Tchaikovsky wrote both his “Eugene Onegin” and “Queen of Spades” based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel and short story, respectively. Each composer credits the original idea in the title of his work, yet he adds his creative interpretation on the original in order to create a staged work.
In connection with some of my previous research, Throsby also observes the specific instance of a composer quoting a predecessor, either as an homage or perhaps another reason (Throsby 202). For many Soviet composers, the expectation to emulate the great Russian composers of the nineteenth century was in full force by the end of the 1930s, partly as a result of the Stalinist purges.
Given his definition of copyright and the practice of Soviet music to emulate, rather than create, it stands to reason some of the issues facing Russian IP in regards to piracy. That is to say that most who were classically trained, if not all, were taught to replicate the great masters so that cultural practice followed a neat formula. On the other hand, the roots of pop culture lay underground before such rock music was allowed openly during glasnost’. As Russian pop culture develops, it is evident that the line between copyright infringement and creativity became blurred.