Films by Jove, Inc. v. Berov
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
250 F. Supp. 2d 156 (2003)
The American company Films by Jove, Inc. (FBJ) and the Russian company Soyuzmultfilm Studio (SMS) (plaintiffs) sued Joseph Berov and others (Berov group) (defendants) for copyright infringement and other offenses. SMS was a former state-owned enterprise that had been converted into a private lease enterprise during the Russian economy’s late-1980s wave of liberalization. The central issue in the lawsuit was whether, under Russian law, the lease enterprise succeeded to the state-owned enterprise’s copyrights. Based on two Russian lower-court decisions that addressed this central issue, and after consulting with American experts on Russian law, in August 2001 the federal district court decided the central issue in favor of, and awarded judgment to, FBJ and SMS. Several months later, the Berov group petitioned the court to reconsider its August 2001 judgment on the grounds that a December 2001 ruling by Russia’s High Arbitrazh Court (high court) overturned the Russian lower courts’ earlier decisions. The district court accepted as persuasive FBJ’s and SMS’s evidence that (1) the high court’s factual and legal analyses of the central issue were clearly wrong, (2) the high court reached its decision under improper Russian government pressure, and (3) this pressure was part of a coordinated Russian government campaign to undo the effects of economic liberalization and recapture privatized copyrights for the Russian state’s benefit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Trager, J.)
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