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Criteria for Copyrightability in Russian Copyright Doctrine and Judicial Practice

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This article analyzes the current state of the debate on the minimum level of creativity needed for works to be copyrightable, including dominant principles in Russian jurisprudence and judicial practice, principal trends and contradictions that arise in the course of the application of various criteria for copyrightability. An analysis of the judicial practice of recent years warrants the conclusion that standards of creativity as a criterion for 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 dying out. Thirdly, there is currently a trend for giving 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 establishes a basis for unintended copyright violations being penalized. This amounts to a classical case of overprotection.

About the Author

Andrey Kashanin
National Research University – Higher School of Economics(Moscow, Russia)
Russian Federation

Deputy Director of Institute of LegalStudies, National Research University – Higher School of Economics (3 Bolshoy Trekhsvyatitelskiy pereulok, 109028, Moscow, Russia


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For citation:

Kashanin A. Criteria for Copyrightability in Russian Copyright Doctrine and Judicial Practice. Russian Law Journal. 2016;4(2):26-61.

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ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)