Russian Government Plans to Make Soviet-Era Films "Public Property"

Moscow - H - 2015
Associated Press

Studios, which currently collect copyright fees from those films, are set to lose a significant source of revenues.

The Russian government plans to make Soviet-era movies exempt from the copyright law, which would strip studios that produced them of a sizeable income.

Copyrights to Soviet-era films are currently owned by the studios that produced them decades ago, such as Moscow-based Mosfilm or St. Petersburg's Lenfilm.

However, over the last few years, the idea has been floated that since the films were funded by the Soviet government, they have to be "public property," so no studio could charge any copyright fees for them.

Last year, President Vladimir Putin said the government should carefully examine the issue.

Now the communications ministry has spoken in favor of the idea.

"We are supporting the idea of turning the Soviet film heritage into public property," Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin was quoted as saying by the Russian daily Vedomosti.

He added that the idea should be executed carefully, with interests of the studios to be observed.

Mosfilm, the Soviet era's largest film studio, currently has the biggest library of the period's films, some of which it has voluntarily made available to watch for free on its website and YouTube channel.

Still, the studios are widely believed to generate a substantial income from their libraries of Soviet-era films, the amount of which has never been revealed. Now they are set to lose it, unless the government chooses to compensate them.