RIGA - The state of Latvia does not own the rights to 973 soviet films shot at the Riga Film Studio from 1964 to May 4, 1990, the Supreme Court ruled today.
Therefore the Supreme Court upheld the Riga Regional Court's ruling - although the Supreme Court did not agree with some conclusions of the regional court - that the state cannot own the rights to these films. Likewise, the Riga Film Studio also does not own the rights to the films, and neither does any legal entity, the Supreme Court said.
The dispute was reviewed by the Supreme Court's Department of Civil Cases today. It said legal entities' rights to these movies expired on May 15, 1993, at the latest, which is when the Law on Copyright and Related Rights came into force. As a result, neither the Riga Film Studio nor the state owns the rights to these films. The rights to these films belong to the authors who created them, the court explained.
The Supreme Court has concluded, after a thorough analysis of the soviet civil laws and regulations, that the copyright concept was interpreted differently at the time. None of these special copyright definitions were incorporated in Latvia's laws and regulations after the on Copyright and Related Rights was adopted. According to the current version of the law, only the individual who has created a given work is considered its author, and no legal entities can have such status.
The Supreme Court said that the authors, or individuals who created the films in question, still hold the copyright to the films, therefore no special court decision is necessary to uphold their rights.
The Supreme Court's decision cannot be appealed, as the Supreme Court's press secretary Baiba Kataja told.
The Riga Regional Court ruled in April 2014 that the Culture Ministry, and not the Riga Film Studio, would have the right to publish and distribute the disputed films, observing the property rights and personal rights of the authors of the films.
The legal dispute goes back to 2008 when the Culture Ministry turned to the court, asking that the Riga Film Studio's agreement with the Danish company Voxell Apps on a distribution of the 973 films be terminated.