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The ruling of the Supreme Court of August 23, 2022 in case No. 5-KG22-54-K2 resolved the «museum» conflict. On the one hand, there are norms of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, according to which any use of a work is possible only with the consent of the author or his legal successors (heirs). On the other hand, there is a «special» norm of Article 36 of the Federal Law «On the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation and Museums of the Russian Federation», according to which museums are assigned the right to first publish museum objects and museum collections, the need for third parties to obtain permission from the directorate of museums for the production of fine and other products using images of museum items. Based on the broad interpretation of this rule, museums used the works in their collections on souvenirs, in advertising of their exhibitions, in catalogs, and also prohibited third parties from similar uses.

In that Ruling, the Supreme Court resolved this conflict to some extent in favor of the authors and their heirs, stating that if the work has not yet entered the public domain (less than 70 years after the death of the author), the general principles of intellectual property law must apply, and emphasizing that that the assignment of a thing does not entail the transfer or grant of intellectual rights to the result of intellectual activity. The museum can become the owner of the exclusive right only on the basis of an agreement with the author, and the fact of transferring the original work to the museum does not mean the transfer of the exclusive right to the work to the museum. When deciding on the legality of use and issuing permits for the use of copyright objects, one should be guided by the content of the agreements, in accordance with which the works were transferred to the museum fund.

Thus, the norms of the Civil Code and the principles of intellectual property law fully apply to works in the museum fund. At the same time, the question of whether «museum» restrictions apply to works that have passed into the public domain remained unresolved.

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