Use of copyright on the Internet. Ways of protecting copyright on the Internet.

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Protected Intellectual Property, a closed list of which is given in Article 1225 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, include objects of copyright. The objects of copyright are works of science, literature and art: literary, musical, audiovisual works, works of painting, sculpture, design, photography, maps, computer programmes, databases and many others. A detailed list of copyright objects is contained in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and is also enshrined in Article 1259 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and is open-ended.

Copyright works are created and used by people every day and all over the world. Rights in created works arise automatically and are recognised by the author from the moment of their creation, provided they are expressed in some objective form. In the digital age, copyright is increasingly being used on the Internet: photos, videos, author’s courses, books, software and more.

At the same time, it should be kept in mind that copyright objects, like other intellectual property, are protected by law and their use without the consent of the right holder will be recognised as an infringement of exclusive rights. The right holder is not obliged to indicate anywhere that he prohibits the use of intellectual property by others (Article 1229 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).

At the same time, it should be kept in mind that copyright objects, like other intellectual property, are protected by law and their use without the consent of the right holder will be recognised as an infringement of exclusive rights. The right holder is not obliged to indicate anywhere that he prohibits the use of intellectual property by others (Article 1229 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).

In this article, we will look at types and ways of protecting infringed copyrights, as well as measures to prevent infringement.

Types of copyright

To begin with, it should be noted that there are two categories of copyrights.

1. Non-property rights

This category of rights belongs to author, it means the person, whose creative work resulted in creation of a work. These rights may not be assigned to anyone else. Non-property rights include the following:

  • The right of authorship, it means the right to be recognised as the author of a work. The right of authorship is closely connected with such infringement as plagiarism, for which criminal liability is provided, among other things (Article 146 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
  • The right to the author’s name, it means the right to use or permit the use of a work under one’s own name, a fictitious name (pseudonym) or without a name – anonymously;
  • Right to inviolability of the work (which protects its integrity and permanence)
  • Right of disclosure of the work. Authors themselves carry out or agree to carry out acts that make the work accessible to the public by publication, public display or other means.

2. Exclusive (property) right

This right originally belongs to the author of a work, but can be transferred to other persons, including several at the same time, for example, by contract or by inheritance. The exclusive right gives its owner the ability to use the work in any way that is not contrary to the law, and to authorise or prohibit others from such use.

The exclusive right to a work is fixed-term and lasts for the life of the author and 70 years after his death. The period begins on 1 January of the following year. If the work is created in collaboration, the term is calculated from the moment of death of the last of the co-authors (Article 1281 of the Civil Code of Russian Federation). Upon expiration of this term, the work shall be transferred into public domain and may be freely used by any person. 3.

3. Other rights of the author

There are also some rights that do not fall under the two abovementioned categories: the right of succession, the right of access and other rights, however these rights are not affected by the use of copyright objects on the Internet.

The most frequent infringement of personal non-property and exclusive rights occurs on the Internet. The following types of copyright infringement are most common:

  • Distribution of audio works without the consent of the copyright holder (35%);
  • Distribution of video recordings without the consent of the copyright holder (33 per cent);
  • Copying of other people’s texts, including plagiarism (19 per cent);
  • Use of computer programme source code (8%).

It should be kept in mind that there are several exceptions when the use of a work without the consent of the copyright holder is not considered to be an infringement. For example, citing a source may not be an infringement of copyright, provided that the fragment taken from the author is formatted according to all the rules:  

  • Citation is necessary to achieve the scientific, informational or other cultural purposes provided by Art. 1274 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation.
  • The volume of the citation is comparable to the purpose of the citation. 
  • The author and the source of the information are indicated.

Copyright protection on the Internet: Ways to protect copyrights

Methods of copyright protection include: 

1) Methods (measures) of protection, whereby liability measures are implemented. The application of liability measures entails additional property losses for the infringer. These methods include the recovery of losses, compensation for moral damage, recovery of compensation. 

Such a measure of liability as compensation for moral damage is applied only to protect personal non-property rights. 

2) Methods (measures) of protection, which are not measures of liability (do not entail additional sanctions for the offender). These may include claims of: 

As a general rule, liability measures are applied if the offender is guilty. The only exception is imposition of liability for violation of exclusive (proprietary rights) – in this case liability arises regardless of the guilt of the offender.

To the measures of responsibility for the violation of exclusive rights include the recovery of compensation and damages (par. 3 p. 3 art. 1250 of the Civil Code), to the measures of responsibility for the violation of personal non-property rights of the author – compensation for moral damage 

Non-liability remedies shall be imposed irrespective of the presence or absence of fault of the infringer.

Protection of the personal non-property rights of an author may be made in the following ways:

  • Recognition of the right; 
  • Restoration of the position which existed prior to the violation of the right; 
  • Compensation for moral harm;
  • Repression of acts infringing or threatening to infringe the right.

Exclusive rights can be protected using the following general remedies: 

  • recognition of the right; 
  • suppression of acts infringing or threatening to infringe the right; 
  • Compensation for damages.

There is also a special measure of liability that the right holder may apply at his choice instead of compensation for damages: compensation, which is calculated

1) in an amount ranging from ten thousand roubles to five million roubles, to be determined at the discretion of the court based on the nature of the infringement;

2) two times the value of the infringed copies of the work;

3) twice the value of the right to use the work, determined on the basis of the price which, under comparable circumstances, is usually charged for the lawful use of the work by the method used by the infringer.

Here it is important to clarify that the author’s losses are real damage and lost profits from the unlawful use of a work. Legal practice shows that copyright holders are more likely to recover compensation for non-compliance with copyright, because then there is no need to prove that losses have been sustained.

How to deal with copyright infringement on the Internet 

If you discover that your copyrights have been infringed, you should take the following steps:

1. Document the infringement. 

In this case, a screenshot of the page of the site where the infringement is found should be taken. The URL of the page, the date and time of the screenshot, and the content of the infringing site should be clearly visible. Additionally, a notary public can assist in securing evidence. A notarial record of the infringement is an advantage, but is not mandatory in intellectual property rights cases.

2. Identify the person responsible for the infringement.

By default, a website owner (administrator), is responsible for an intellectual property infringement on the Internet. This information can be obtained through the Whois service, but this information is personal and may be hidden. In that case you should contact the domain registrar with a lawyer’s request, to which the registrar must respond.

3. Submit a pre-trial complaint. 

Generally, in half of the cases a formal complaint will be enough for the site owner to remove the content. In the case of social media, it is advisable to contact the site’s helpdesk, which can initiate its own investigation. Information intermediaries such as YouTube, Vkontakte and others are happy to remove potentially infringing information, as they may be liable if they do not respond appropriately.

4. Legal proceedings

If the infringer has not satisfied the requirements described in the complaint, or if there is a desire to recover monetary compensation, it is necessary to go to court. As a rule, a lawsuit is filed to the district court by individuals or to the arbitration court on behalf of LLCs and IEs. If a petition is filed, the website may be temporarily blocked at the petitioner’s request as a provisional measure.

Measures to prevent copyright infringement

Of course, there is no complete protection against copying or theft of creative or intellectual works on the Internet. However, there are preventive measures that anyone can take: 

  • Inform users of the site. 

It is advisable to inform visitors to the resource of possible liability for stealing materials. 

It is always advisable to sign materials with your name on the Internet. For text, it is an indication of the author, for photos and videos – watermarks.

It is also important to have an official document with the date of creation of the work. This can be a notarised screenshot from a website showing the date when the content was published.

  • Deposit of copyright of a work

The Russian Copyright Society makes the deposit of data about the authors of a work, its title and the date of creation. It is essentially a way of proving the existence of a work at a particular point in time.

  • Registration of computers and databases

Although the copyright for the computer and the database arise immediately after their creation, the right holder can register them additionally with the federal service for intellectual property (Rospatent) if he wishes. This will serve as an additional measure of protection and proof of rights to the specified intellectual property.

  • Use the services of rights protection. 

Today, there are many resources that monitor the search for infringement in the field of Internet content protection.

In the case of copyright protection, legal support is also important. VALEN lawyers provide comprehensive legal services for online copyright protection.

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