Russia: Limonov and Copyright

Russia is notorious for its disregard for copyright laws. According to anti-piracy organizations, it is the second-biggest source of pirated software, music and film in the world. China is the first.

The discussion translated below (RUS) takes on the issue of piracy in a somewhat ironic vein: Sergei Maximishin (LJ user remetalk), an award-winning Russian photographer whose brilliant work appears regularly in many leading publications, discovered that one of his best-known photos – an ambiguous portrait of the Russian president Vladimir Putin – was used without permission on the cover of a book by one of the most controversial Russian politicians, Eduard Limonov, founder of the National-Bolshevik Party. The book's title is “We Don't Need a President Like This: Limonov vs Putin.”

The irony is that trying to sue Limonov or his publishers would, in a way, be like casting the first stone: Maximishin admits to having used unlicensed software himself – simply because he, like the multitudes of other Russians, couldn't afford the licensed product.


About theft

limonov\'s book cover

The cover of Limonov's book. I think this picture of mine has already become a folk picture [author unknown; in public domain].


At Moskva bookstore, [a 1 m-by-60 cm poster] in a golden frame was on sale last summer. I asked: So, are people interested? The seller said: It sells like pasties!

Communists pasted this image onto a cardboard, attached a stick to it, drew Hitler's mustache and an armband with a swastika and carry it around as an [Orthodox Christian banner] at rallies.

And someone sent me a link to the site where the persona is wearing a baseball hat with the McDonald's letter on it and there's a bubble coming out of his mouth with the words, “This cashier's free!”


fresquete: Isn't it like the highest reward for a creator when his creation [becomes familiar to everyone]. :))))) Seriously, though, have you tried to fight [this outrageous behaviour]? And is it possible to fight it at all?

remetalk: This is exactly what I'm talking about. I'll start suing when I buy myself Photoshop for $700. And for now I think that those who steal, don't pay, and those who pay, don't steal.


kostiki: Two hundred years ago historian Karamzin visited France. Russian emigrants asked him:
– In two words, what is going on at home?
Karamzin didn't even need two words.
– Stealing, – he replied…

P.S. Perhaps if [copyright law is respected], you'd be able to afford not just the licensed Photoshop, but [everything else]?

aka_lacerda: It's not about Photoshop specifically, but about the general situation in the country. As long as every computer has stolen Windows and Photoshop, any other intellectual property will be stolen just as well. They don't realise it yet. And aren't likely to anytime soon.


onemorepash: The game is called “Find your own way to talk Maximishin into suing Limonov.” Photoshop, GIMP, [$]700, [$]300… maybe there are people out there who, for this purpose, are ready to buy Sergei Yakovlevich [Maximishin] Photoshop? :))

bpatuiiika: I can steal it and give it to him as a gift. Then it'd be a “presented” copy [not stolen].


  • Greetings.

    Pirated software is ubiquitous in Russia and in other countries of the former Soviet Union. Whenever I returned to Minsk for a visit, I was not able to avoid seeing a variety of peddlers on the streets or in subway stations selling obviously pirated disks—without any fear of censure or persecution.

    There is a reason behind this, of course. Most people in Russia and Belarus simply cannot afford the highly-priced legal versions of the software. How would they be able to purchase a computer game for $50 or an art program for $700 if their monthly wages are about $100? So the pirates step in to supply them with a commodity that they desire at prices they can afford; there are low entry barriers to this market and little oversight to prevent this from happening. Furthermore, stringent legal crackdowns on this activity will probably cost more money than is currently lost by the programs’ creators due to the piracy.

    My intention here was not to justify the widespread piracy; it was to explain why it occurs.

    I am
    G. Stolyarov II

  • […] – Tanya Kotova is a student of the award-winning Russian photographer Sergei Maximishin (LJ user remetalk), who was mentioned in a Global Voices translation in June 2006 – here. […]

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