Tuzov’s case review to resume in two weeks
Penza, 18 May 2016. PenzaNews. The preliminary Penza region Arbitration Court session on the case of the PenzaNews agency founding body against an individual businessman Alexander Tuzov on recovery of compensation for 74 facts of illegal use of copyrighted work has been temporarily placed on hold for two weeks.
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During the second main court session, which concluded in the evening of Wednesday, May 18, the complainant and its representatives fully confirmed the claims, and reminded the exact list of their claims.
“We are standing for the fact that it [the complainant side] owns exclusive rights for the photographic works – the complainant showed the court the sources of the images, the copies of employment agreements with the third parties, and the third parties confirmed the transition of rights for the images in question in their statements; also, the fact that the defendant violated the exclusive rules – the complainant provided the notarized copies of the website that had the images in question put up for display,” the PenzaNews editor-in-chief Pavel Polosin explained during the court session.
In turn, the defendant claimed that the complainant allegedly did not provide any originals of the images to the court, and he “did not vision” them. Following this statement, the judge Svetlana Novikova displayed some of the files from the CD, which had been provided by the complainant to the court back in 24 February 2016, on the screen installed in the courtroom.
After inspecting the photos, the defendant expressed his doubt over the originality of the objects of copyright, and demanded the complainant to provide additional evidence.
As a representative of the complainant explained, having image sources present is an undeniable proof: however, he added that the defendant will provide the screenshots of the PenzaNews website which originally featured the photos as additional proof during the next court session, adding that the links to the webpages in question had been provided in the court documents back during the court claim submission.
During the session, the defendant attempted to deviate the course of the proceeding by highlighting elements of lesser importance, using confusing technical jargon and expressions, and describing alleged falsifications in a very emotional manner.
After Pavel Polosin suggested the defendant to submit an official claim over the allegedly falsified evidence, the defendant left the remark without attention. Moreover, when the judge made a similar suggestion, Alexander Tuzov rejected it.
Also, the defendant declined to answer Pavel Polosin’s question on whether he is informed about “Alexander Tuzov’s Blog,” citing Article 51 of the Russian Constitution. Following that, he did not react to any following questions at all, apart from suddenly deciding to take a photo of the PenzaNews editor-in-chief.
The apotheosis of Alexander Tuzov’s eccentric behavior in the courtroom, nicknamed “kabuki theater performance” by some of the people present there, was a presentation of a voice recording about the costs of the photos, even though the audio file was not included in the evidence of the case. Before and after the presentation, which came by without any explicit permission, judge Svetlana Novikova attempted to ask Alexander Tuzov about the audio file’s connection to the case. After failing to elicit any constructive reply from him, she declined his request to include the file in the evidence list.
“Not related to the case, the court declines,” Svetlana Novikova said, explaining that, as the complainant noted, the cost of photos may vary depending on the situation.
In addition, once again the judge reminded the parties that the case can be resolved out of court. In turn, the representative of the complainant stated that the copyright holder retains its previous offer, announced during the talks with the defendant in February 2016, to cut the claim sum in half – down to 1.5 million rubles – in an out-of-court settlement.
In conclusion, judge Svetlana Novikova announced a break in the case for two weeks until Wednesday, June 1.
As PenzaNews reported earlier, in January 2016, “VolgaInterMedia” initiated a case in the Penza region Arbitration Court against the individual businessman Alexander Tuzov on recovery of compensation of 3 million rubles overall for illegal use of copyrighted photos on two websites.
The first preliminary court hearing took place on February 8. Even though the accused party had been addressed a hearing summons containing the date and time of the hearing, and a request of arbitration, neither he nor his representative appeared in the court. At the same time, the complainant presented a package of documents in confirmation of illegal use of copyrighted work by the accused party. As a result, the court postponed the preliminary hearing until March 2.
Alexander Tuzov petitioned to familiarize with materials of the case on February 9.
On the evening of the same day, the PenzaNews editor-in-chief Pavel Polosin, who earlier suggested that Alexander Tuzov was likely to play victim, received a text message on his personal mobile phone with an offer to “settle the issue out of court.”
On February 15, the president of “VolgaInterMedia” Ivan Malikov met with Alexander Tuzov on the latter’s initiative, and offered him to settle the issue out of court for half the amount, with an option to pay it in installments; however, Alexander Tuzov declined, saying he does not have the money.
On the next day, Ivan Malikov expressed an opinion that the failure of out-of-court settlement talks forced the administrator of “Alexander Tuzov’s Blog” to delete his LiveJournal account. The president of “VolgaInterMedia” said he welcomes the decision, although it will not help the blogger in question escape the liability.
In late February, the complainant updated the claims to Alexander Tuzov and listed 74 facts of illegal use of photos instead of 60, for the same expected compensation amount of 3 million rubles.
During the preliminary court session on March 2, Alexander Tuzov claimed that he is not the owner of “Alexander Tuzov’s Blog” in LiveJournal, which had been removed in February 2016. The aforementioned blog contained provocative information that concerned such people as some of the high-ranking officials of the Penza region.
On the evening of the same day, Sergei Padalkin, head of the press service in the CPRF Penza region committee, expressed his opinion over the court session by writing “Neighborhood fool shows himself in Arbitration Court today” in his Twitter.
On March 3, members of the media community discussed the wording and phrasing choices by Alexander Tuzov with their colleagues at PenzaNews. In particular, they pointed out that during the court hearing on March 2, Alexander Tuzov used such poorly-chosen phrases as “[people are] recording [rather than writing] in their newspaper” and “[I am] not laying [rather than ‘lying’].” According to certain journalists, these mistakes reveal the true literacy level of the person who is employed as an editor-in-chief of a registered online media and also poses himself as a local political analyst.
The next preliminary court session in the row took place on April 6, when 8 non-party intervenors confirmed that they produced the photos under their job agreements and first published on the website of PenzaNews agency.
In another preliminary court session held on April 13, the court declined the complainant’s request to involve more witnesses in the case.
The first main case session was held on May 11. During that session, Alexander Tuzov originally attempted to convince the court that his online news source is a non-commercial project, but eventually was forced to make a public admission that that the website brings him “miserly income” through advertising.
Also, Alexander Tuzov suggested that using photos created and owned by another party should not be shunned upon, and expressed an opinion that “all agencies, most of them, are using photos that are 80-90% borrowed from others.”
In turn, PenzaNews editor-in-chief Pavel Polosin suggested that other parties may soon join in with their copyright infringement claims against Alexander Tuzov if such trend continues.