Friday 1 May 2015

Copyright infringement in Ukraine: a little case study

"Ukrainian Painter Files Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Local Businesswoman" is the title of a news item by Olga Goncharova which was published in the most recent issue of Petosevic & Resources. It runs like this:
Yevhenia Gapchynska, a well-known Ukrainian painter and illustrator of children’s books, has recently filed a lawsuit against Valentyna Tsymbaliuk, a businesswoman from Lutsk, northwestern Ukraine, for the unauthorized use of images of her works of art on products such as passport covers and mirrors, which Tsymbaliuk manufactured and sold.

According to her lawyer, Gapchynska attempted to settle the matter out of court, but having received no response, she filed a copyright infringement lawsuit with a local court. The defendant failed to appear at the first hearing, so it has been rescheduled for early May.

Gapchynska has already won three court cases against sellers of unauthorized reproductions of her art, in Lutsk and Rivne, western Ukraine. As the salespeople did not reveal the origin of the unauthorized copies, the painter sued the salespeople and won several hundreds of euros in damages in each case.
This blogger wonders how cost-effective copyright infringement litigation in Ukraine actually is.  The haul of "several hundreds of euros" per case sounds small in relation to the stress and effort of going to court, even if -- as seems to be case -- a successful litigant in civil litigation in Ukraine will recover all documented costs. However, it can be difficult to persuade licensees to part with money for permission to use artwork that others are using for nothing.

One might also infer from the line about the salespeople not revealing the origin of the unauthorized copies that there exists no legal means of compelling them to do so, along the lines of Article 8 of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive (Directive 2004/48). While Article 8 does not provide an automatic means of getting the details of the names behind the most easily identifiable infringers, a "justified and proportionate" request for disclosure of that information should be difficult for a court to refuse.

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