CD Land Contact LLC, the copyright holder of the Zhdun (“The One Who Waits”) brand in Russia, lost a case in the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region with a claim for compensation of 5 million rubles from the social network VKontakte (VK).
In 2017, CD Land Contact acquired exclusive rights to works of fine art with the name “Zhdun” (Homunkulus Loxodontus) in Russia from the artist Margaret A. Van Brevoort.
At the same time, VKontakte made electronic stickers (emoji) with the image of Zhdun for chat and messenger, available to all users of the social network.
In 2017, CD Land Contact sent a claim, and after the refusal of VKontakte, the copyright holder filed a lawsuit and demanded to recover 5 million rubles ($70 thousand) from the social network.
The court of first instance dismissed the claim, citing the fact that the social network used a parody of the artist’s work in emoji, and not the work itself. There was also an interview with Margaret A. Van Brevoort from 2017, where she spoke positively about the publication of her character on another Russian site. The court concluded that the author did not object to its use on the Runet, since the collective efforts of Russian users created an independent media object – a parody Internet meme “Zhdun”.
CD Land Contact has not yet appealed this decision.