A comparitive study of copyright. An analysis of the effects of a laxer system of copyright law on the reception of english popular books in Russia and the implications thereof to copyright laws and their success in achieving the aims of copyright.
Thesis DisciplineEuropean Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of European Union Studies
The copyright system in Russia has historically been much more liberal on the matter of derivative works than western copyright systems such as those that prevail in the EU or America. It more closely resembles older systems in which a more utilitarian approach was taken to copyright with less of an emphasis on copyright as an innate right of the author to be protected. This has allowed works derivative of western works to be published in Russia that are not permitted under the systems prevalent in the EU, USA and other western countries. Looking at these works insight can be gained into the extent to which modern copyright systems are effectively achieving the stated aims that are attributed to them. These aims are said to be encouraging the production of further useful works and protecting the rights of an author but the approach to achieving them greatly varies between copyright systems. In this analysis the reception of three western works in considered. The first is The Wizard of Oz, the second is The Lord of The Rings and the third is Harry Potter. Each one of these works has had derivative works published in Russia that would not have been legal in the west. Three case studies are The Wizard of the Emerald City by Alexander Melentyevich Volkov, The Last Ringbearer by Kirill Yeskov (sometimes referred to as Eskov online) and Tanya Grotter by Dmitri Yemets. Each of these works are highly derivative of western works in different ways that present an interesting insight into the logic and consequences of the Russian copyright system. Looking at these works one can see that the relationship between them and the original is complex and varied as well as the legal questions raised but all have certain things in common. All represent an adaption of western works to a Russian context. All arguably (at least by western standards) infringe on the rights of the author. However, all are also of genuine literary value and therefore by banning them it could be argued that western systems in Europe or America are actually hindering the production of “useful arts”. The Russian system of copyrights thus has several advantages over the western one on the grounds of pure economics as it allows further valuable works to be published whilst the economic impact on authors is, in the case of the works looked at, minimal. It cannot, however, be guaranteed that this would be the case with all works as certain works might be more heavily affected by a looser copyright system than the ones presented. However, the moral rights of the author are arguably infringed by the Russian system as can be illustrated by the cases looked at and the way the works looked at often distort the ethics and morals of the original. Further insight into the two systems can be gained by looking at history when the western system was much more similar to the modern-day Russian system with the copyright controversy surrounding works like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Looking Backwards. This demonstrates that the issues advantages and disadvantages of the modern Russian system were equally apparent in western systems in the nineteenth century. In a similar way, modern western cases such as the works of authors like Alan Moore and parody works like Bored of the Rings shed light on and call into question the consistency of the implementation of “moral rights” in the west. Overall, there is a case to be made that the modern Russian system is actually more consistent with the supposed aims of copyright law than the western system.