Nikita Mikhalkov failed to argue against gaining from Decree No. 829

Nikita Mikhalkov failed to argue against gaining from Decree No. 829
Nikita Mikhalkov

The Head of the Russian Union of Right-holders (RUR) has lost his suit against a number of media, which defame his reputation with their publications.

Film director Nikita Mikhalkov has lost a suit amounting to 2 million rubles against a number of Russian media outlets. As reported by its Press Secretary Konstantin Timoshenko, the Savelovsky Court of Moscow has fully rejected the plaintiff’s claim against FederalPress RIA, FederalPress. Media LLC, Inews LLC, and Izvestiya newspaper.

Mikhalkov appealed to the court after the publication of "inappropriate" and “defaming” information, which appeared on September 18, 2015 in the article “Ministry of Culture allowed Mikhalkov to feed on Decree No. 829 for 10 more years.”

In his lawsuit, the film director demanded that the newspaper refuted this information, as well as that the court recovered 2 million rubles from the outlets that published materials on this subject. The complainant also specified that the aforementioned media outlets wrongly used his photos in their materials.

Nikita Mikhalkov’s lawyer Galina Enyutina explained that the director’s dissatisfaction stems from the fact the publication of his photos along with the headline creates the impression that the Ministry of Culture allowed Mikhalkov to personally levy the tax.

Lawyers of the defendants on Mikhalkov’s suit, in their turn, noted that the publications give a detailed and reliable report on the extension of state accreditation, which entitles the RUR to collect taxes under Decree No. 829.

During the proceedings, the plaintiff asked to account for the fact he is a public person; moreover, that he is implementing "socially significant" projects. Therefore, in Enyutina’s words, publication of the materials defaming Mikhalkov was unacceptable. However, the Savelovsky Court refused to accept this argument.

Earlier, in September, the Gagarin District Court of Moscow also failed to uphold Mikhalkov’s similar lawsuit against RBC media holding.

Then Nikita Mikhalkov issued a press statement harshly criticizing the Russian court, accusing it of “professional carelessness and superficial attitude to everything.”

Formally, Nikita Mikhalkov is not related to the Russian Union of Right-holders, which is intended to observe the interests of right holders. However, he is directly linked to building a system of copyright protection as a whole. In 2009, Mikhalkov started lobbying the introduction of a system of fees levied from equipment manufacturers and importers, known as ‘Mikhalkov’s tax’ or ‘tax on CDs.’

The tax got its name from the fact that not only the carriers with data recorded on them are subject to it, but also blank recordable CDs or DVDs, as well as computers, smart phones, and other equipment. The right to collect 1% of the turnover of manufacturers and importers of equipment for copying and reproducing audio and video recordings was granted to the Russian Union of Right-holders (RUR) in 2010.

By the way, in early 2016, Nikita Mikhalkov’s RUR lost in court to Dell. The Union demanded 90 million rubles as ‘tax on CDs’ for import of servers and data warehouses to Russia. But the court did not side with Mikhalkov.

The Decree No. 829 has been repeatedly criticized. It has been criticized not only by manufacturers, but also by officials themselves. In January 2016, State Duma Deputy from the LDPR Sergey Ivanov introduced to the State Duma a bill to abolish the tax. The MP argued that CD owner pays to copyright holders when buying the disc, and the RUR charge is additional levies. Although it was chosen to forget the bill, and it was not brought forward for discussion.

However, in May 2016, Russian Government Chief of Staff Sergey Prikhodko said that the fee of 1%, levied from importers and manufacturers of electronics and digital media for the benefit of authors and performers, would not be canceled. 

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