Provenance of movies on Russian Film Hub
The vast majority of Russian Film Hub movies are embedded YouTube content from the following film studios: Mosfilm (the largest Soviet film studio), Lenfilm, Gorkyfilm, and Central Partnership (the largest contemporary Russian film distributor). Russian Film Hub also links to a number of relatively recent releases which you can stream on Amazon Prime Video. As such, the copyright of all these movies is held by these studios and distributors.
Generally when these copyright holders upload videos to YouTube, they enter into a royalty-free licensing agreement with YouTube that grants public usage rights. That’s how Russian Film Hub is able to get access to such a large, high quality film catalog.
Although the owners of these YouTube videos relinquish certain rights by using the YouTube platform, they do still hold a number of rights that Russian Film Hub fully respects and complies with. These copyright holders retain all economic and moral rights to their videos.
- Economic rights: the copyright holders retain the right to sell their films; meanwhile, Russian Film Hub does not and will never sell the right to access their films.
- Moral rights: the copyright holders receive authorship credit and full integrity of their content (no editing or changes by us at all) – Russian Film Hub in no way hides that these are embedded YouTube videos (you can just click through to YouTube via the video player).
Sometimes the copyright holders we’ve discussed will limit third parties’ ability to embed their YouTube content. The classic example of this is Mosfilm, which allows almost no one to embed their film collection. For an example of this, please see this RBTH article: https://www.rbth.com/arts/329656-7-major-movies-russian-soul. Something that makes Russian Film Hub a special platform is that we are the only English-language website to which Mosfilm has given embedding privileges.
Russian Film Hub’s legal position
The video content you see on Russian Film Hub is always hosted by one of these third-party websites: YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. When Russian Film Hub links to an external paid streaming site, it is either Amazon Prime Video or Apple iTunes.
As such, Russian Film Hub is not an online service provider as defined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We do not provide legal copyright owners or non-copyright holders with the ability to publish on the internet by uploading, storing, and displaying various media utilizing our services. And to be absolutely clear, we do not host video content on our own servers.
As such, in the unlikely event that you believe infringing material appears on this website, your best bet for taking down the content is to contact the following video hosts here: YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. If you notify us in writing on our Contact page, we will ensure that content is not on our website and will gladly work with you to help enforce your copyright.
If you are a copyright holder from the former Soviet Union and would like any help enforcing your copyright in the US, we are glad to help you navigate US copyright enforcement.
How is this possible at all?
Our answer slips into conjecture but we’re pretty sure there are two main components: the legacy of Soviet copyright mores and rampant illegal streaming in Russia today.
- Legacy of Soviet copyright: much like how film produced by the US government is automatically public domain content, during the Soviet Union, films created by Soviet film studios were automatically owned by the public – the Soviet people. That changed after the fall of the Soviet Union when copyright was handed over to newly privatized studios in an effort to make them financially self-sufficient. Today, that means that the studios are left in a unique position. While they own the copyright to their film catalogs, they would meet public uproar if they tried to fully monetize them in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Partly because of this, they upload these movies free-to-view online and largely make money off ad revenue.
- Illegal streaming in Russia today: it’s no secret that Russians can easily watch most any movie – new or old – on their main social networks, VK.com and OK.ru. That they can do this puts pressure on legacy and new Russian film studios to place their content free-of-charge online (and make money off ads).
So…why do you exist?
Russian Film Hub exists because despite Russian and Soviet cinema being so unusually available online, it is also highly inaccessible to non-Russian speakers. By cataloging and organizing these films and sharing versions with subtitles in English and other languages, Russian Film Hub empowers people around the world to find, watch, and enjoy Russian movies to the max. As such, we try to be the crucial interlocutor the non-Russian speaking world needs in this historically important part of world cinema.