Russian Parliament Mulls Nationalization of Soviet-Era Films

Under new draft legislation, films made during that period will now be available online for free.

MOSCOW -- The Russian parliament is preparing to nationalize all movies made during the Soviet era in a move that is set to drastically affect the copyright situation in the country.

Under a new draft law submitted for consideration, all features, documentaries, animated films and TV series made during that time are to become common property, and no fees are to be charged for the use of them.

The fact that rights to Soviet-era films financed by the state are now owned by private companies "violated a legitimate balance of interests of the state, private business and civil society," reads an explanatory note to the draft law.

STORY: Russia's Filmmakers Clash With West Over Ukraine, Split Over Crimea

"We believe that all films made in the Soviet era and financed by the government are to be available for free online," Alexei Kazakov, head of the subcommittee for electronic democracy at the Russian State Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, was quoted as saying by the daily newspaper Izvestia.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there have been several legal battles for Soviet-era film libraries. Back then, film studios were also producers and copyright owners, but following the demise of the Communist system some were unable to retain rights to their libraries.

STORY: Jared Leto Visits Kiev, Pays Tribute to Ukraine Revolution's Victims

St Petersburg-based Lenfilm is currently fighting to get back its Soviet-era film library, which it hoped would bring the company sizable revenues. However, if the new law is adopted, studios won't be able to generate any income from their libraries of Soviet films.

Incidentally, Mosfilm, the country's biggest film studio and the biggest film producer during the Soviet era, currently allows users to watch many old classics for free on its website.