In defense of Maxim Moshkov's Library

Maxim Moshkov


In Russian


In April 2004 a serious problem arose for noncommercial (free) electronic libraries - to find effective mechanisms of legal protection and foundation of their operations. With support of "KM Online" company (1) four authors sued six largest Russian-language Internet libraries for alleged violations of copyright, to the tune of 500,000$ in total.

Among the alleged "pirates" - Maxim Moshkov, the creator of widely known Lib.Ru (2) library, where according to the current legislation all works are published either with the author's permission, or under the licensing of Russian Society for Multimedia and Digital Networks (3); any work is also immediately removed on the first request of it's author or the rights holder. In practice, this scheme turned out weak, since Maxim has relied on spoken agreements with at least some of the writers (4). The authors themselves sometimes forgot about these agreements, and signed away other, writte agreements transferring exclusive rights for Internet publication, for example in partially commercial Internet library LIB.KM.RU, owned by "KM Online".

The situation is further worsened by a worrying signal which came on April 22nd from the State Duma, where a second reading of amendments to the Law on Author's and elated Rights was approved, containing clauses which put under risk not only the very existence of online libraries, but even all work with electronic documents in usual, offline libraries (5).


Manifesto in defense of Maxim Moshkov Library


We, the undersigned, are worried by the situation taking place around the online libraries, and consider it our obligation to support their creators, and Maxim Moshkov in particular.

Online libraries are an exceptionally large intellectual fund. They lessen the effect of so-called "brain drain", permitting people to stay in the orbit of Russian language and culture. Without online libraries the useful effect of Internet and computers in Russian education system is sharply lowered. A huge, openly available mass of Russian literary texts is a foundation permitting further development of Russian-language culture, worldwide.

Everything said above doesn't mean we should forget about rights of the authors. However much would we tal about the importance of online libraries, they shopuld operate within the law. In practice the owners of such libraries often have to rely on the spoken author's permission to publish his/her works on the Internet. The requirement of current legislation to have a written agreement not only complicates the work of the online libraries, but often puts them on the very border of the legal situation. This make the development of content-based Internet resources an unstable endeavour, and as it comes out, sometimes dependent on the thrust of jsu one litigious company.

There are different views on how exactly should the relationships between writers and online libraries be built. A wide list of authors who explicitly permitted to place their works in the Lib.Ru library speaks volumes about the practicality of the scheme used by Maxim Moshkov. However, the litigation under way shows it's incompleteness and weak spots.

The old-fashioned, offline libraries always provided free access to all published works. Are we to be left without this most important public resource ater the transition to digital technologies? Should we refuse the possibility to use a library from our home over the Internet only because the technologies of controlling access so as not to infringe on the rights of the authors are not yet in place?

Answers to these questions are to be found in a public dialogue. Non-commercial, free online libraries must become de-jue public libraries. It is possible that this would require some kind of licensing, like the one existing for Internet mass media, maybe a certification of technologies used by such a library to ensure rights protection, or some other techniocal or legal solutions. We believe that with combined effort we can work out the rules and technologies which would be acceptable for everyone.


Theses


- Maxim Moshkow library is a result of many years of unpaid work of hundreds of volunteers, and first and foremost it's primary creator and maintainer. It is a de fact national treasure which doesn't have any direct analogues in the world.

- We cannot allow harm to be done to the Library or it's maintainer in order to satisfy someone's purely commercial interest.

- Current copyright laws do not completely take into account conteporary technological reailty, and are not always adequately employed when applied to electronic documents.

- However, lawmakers shouldn't hurry to make new laws, since the questions of copyright and author's rights in the digital age are extremely complex and controversial, and quick, hurried action can do a lot of harm to the society.

- It is necessary to initiate an open, public dialogue to work out a scheme for the functoning of online libraries, whcih would provide a fair balance of interests between the society and the authors.


***


We encourage as wide distribution of this manifesto as possible, with the only condition of reproducing it's text verbatim (in printed mass media it is permitted to omit the Reference section) and including a link to this page - http://ezhe.ru/actions/lib/eng.html

This manifesto is composed and supported by the following members of International Union of Internet Professionals "EZHE" (6): Александр Малюков aka CAM, Александр Сергеев, Дима Вернер, Михаил Браво, Роман Корнеев, Фёдор Семёнов, Николай Терлецкий, Дмитрий В. Вальяно aka Negros, Павел Губарев, Леонид Медведев, Вячеслав Панкратов, Павел Шевчук, Ирина Козел aka Мумбра, Александр Якутский, Евгений Скляревский, Наталья Рябова aka Вика, Прохор Утишев, Константин Кноп, Михаил Вахтеров, Дмитрий Галкин, Игорь Королев, Павел Филиппов, Юрий Коржков, Константин Воронов, Арсений Камышев, Александр Наумов, Дмитрий Голомолзин, Роман Иванов aka Kukutz, Борис Тарасов, Артур Виноградов, Александр Ласкин, Сергей Сизых, Александр Зорич, Алексей Рерих, Алексей Нестеренко, Александр Смирнов aka PHPClub, Алексей Епифанов, Сумерк Богов, Артемий Ломов, Вячеслав Ансимов, Максим Кононенко aka Mr. Parker, Дмитрий Рунов, , Дмитрий Леонов, Александр Милицкий aka Sanches, Алексей Привалихин, Тигран Закоян, Дмитрий Манин, Андрей Алексашкин, Дмитрий Салко, Юрий Белоусов, , Кирилл Воробьев aka Баян Ширянов, Сергей Чернышев, Герберт Эш aka BlackASH, Евгений Матусевич, Александр Каросас, Денис Панин, Борис Тихомиров, Георгий (Юра) Киселев, Сергей Бережной, Михаил Чеканов, Александр Браво, Александр Денисенко, Денис Шумаков, Генри Шеппард, Алексей Иванов, Александр Лозовюк, Глеб Гусев, Михаил Абрамзон, Андрей Чертков, Руслан Курепин, Олег Константинов, Антон Петров, Павел Фролов, Николай Покровский, Юлия Судакова, Андрей Миронов, Стас Щербаков, Мария Говорун, Андрей Удалов, Артем Новиков, Андрей Лубенский, , Елизавета Трибунская, , Вадим Юренков, Алекс Ларьяновский, Андрей Василевский, Соня Соколова, Виктор Галенко, Gilmour, Николай Ткаченко, Владимир Мадонич, Константин Коломеец, Лилия Тимошевская


Reference


1. "KM Online" - Russian-language content-provider and Internet publisher. The company is the developer of multi-portal KM.RU and partially commercial online libraryLIB.KM.RU; is part of e-Style group - a holding consisting of such companies as "Cyril and Mefodius", NMG, ComputerPlaza, "KM online", TravelShop, e-Style ISP and e-Style SoftwareHouse. e-Style Group is a division of the R-Style group of computer companies - one of the biggest computer holdings in Russian federation.

2. Maxim Moshkov's Library - one of the oldest (opened in 1994), respected (had won in such competitions as Russian Online TOP, "Golden Site", National Internet Award and many others), largest (over 21 thousand texts) and most popular online projects.

3. Russian Society for Multimedia and Digital Networks (ROMS) - the first Russian organization for collective management of author's and related rights on the Internet and in multimedia products. ROMS manages the collection and distrbution of royalty payments for authors, performers, phonogram manufacturers, publishers and other rights' holders.

4. Four aurthors: Edward Gevorkyan, Vasily Golovachev, Elena Katasonova and Alexandra Marinina, - have considered their rights infringed upon. There were no works of Elena Katasonova in the Maxim Moshkow Library, ever. There were spoken agreements with Edward Gevorkyan, Vasily Golovachev and Alexandra Marinina. Alexandra Marinina and Vasily Govolvachev have never revoked the agreements. Edward Gevorkyan gave the agreement to Maxim Moshkov, however the lawyers of "KM online" have initiated a litigation for Edward demanding compensation of moral damages amounting to 1 million roubles, and 500 thousand roubles for lost profits. It also needs to be said that no works of Mr.Gevorkyan were present in the library since November 2003.

5. An amendment to the clause 19 of the Russian federation Law "On the Copyright and Related Rights", according to the draft of the federal law "About the amendments to the law on copyright and related rights", approved by State Duma in a second reading. In the wording proposed the clause 19 prohibits any library to provide usage electronic instances of works beyond the physical space of the library. This norm has appeared only in the second reading. Quote: "... instances of works, expressed in digital form, including those provided on mutual terms (iterlibrary loan, combined catalogs, automatic databases, depositaris), can be provided for temporary usage only in the library rooms and only when the possibility of creating a digital cpy has been excluded."

6. International Union of Internet Professionals "EZHE" - a professional union, a self-regulating organ, in fact a kind of a guild of Russian Internet movers and doers.