Russian billionaire returns Soviet cartoons from U.S.
A Russian billionaire has bought rights to a collection of Soviet-era cartoons from U.S.-based film company and presented them to a new Russian state-run children`s channel, the tycoon`s spokesman said Wednesday.
On September 3 Swinstar Holdings Limited, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, purchased all intellectual rights for broadcasting the Russian animated movies from Films By Jove (FBJ), a Los Angeles-based company, and handed them over without charge to children`s channel Bibigon, which began broadcasting on September 1.
Los Angeles-based film and distribution company FBJ acquired worldwide distribution rights (excluding the former Soviet Union) to Moscow`s famous Soyuzmultfilm library in 1992.
The collection of cartoons has caused a long-running dispute between FBJ and Russia`s Soyuzmultfilm over copyrights.
Over the years, FBJ invested millions of dollars digitally restoring and marketing the Soviet films, but court hearings ensued as Soyuzmultfilm changed its organizational status more than once, and claimed it had sole ownership of all copyrights on its products.
In mid-August a Moscow arbitration court postponed until January 21, 2008 hearings on the case, saying it had no information on whether the U.S. firm had been notified of the court proceedings, and that the plaintiff needed more time to specify its claims.
Uzbek-born Usmanov, who co-owns major steel factories and heads a subsidiary of state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, is Russia`s 23rd richest man according to Forbes, with wealth estimated at $5.5 billion.