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Jerzy Hoffman loses copyrights in Ukraine

2008-11-03

Polish director Jerzy Hoffman has lost a court case against the Ukrainian government over Hoffman's hit movie With Fire and Sword.

The case concerned what Hoffman claimed was illegal broadcast and DVD release of the film in the Ukraine.

Gazeta Wyborcza (www.gazeta.pl) reported that on October 30 Hoffman had appeared at a press conference to comment his failure in winning the copywright to his own work. Along with two Ukrainin directors, the Polish filmmaker had accused the authorities of Ukraine of depriving them of their deserved royalties and permiting the local television stations and distributors to use their work without their consent.

Hoffman seemed sure to win the trial, but in a surprise verdict the court in Kiev decided the rights belong not to the filmmaker, but to the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture. "In most countries, copyright violation is sanctioned with such a punishment that no one will even think about doing it," Hoffman told Gazeta Wyborcza. "For the first time I was deprived of rights to my own movies by the court of a free state." This situation is especially unpleasant for the Polish filmmaker, who, just one week before the end of the trial, had presented his four-series documentary entitled Ukraine. Infancy of the Nation created out of his strong connection to the neighboring country.

The director's lawyer explained that the Ukrainian court didn't see the author of With Fire and Sword as the "copyright entity." In addition,during the press conference Aleksiej Lewczenko,the other filmmaker who suffered from the same violation, said he was informed that in their eyes he is not the "author" but the "artist." The Ukrainian Department of Intellectual Property had failed to comment on that matter.

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