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Funtik Entertainment purges Russian animation from Youtube

Funtik Entertainment purges Russian animation from Youtube

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 Внимание, есть русский перевод статьи: Именем Фунтика – вы арестованы!

If you've visited Youtube after July 19, you may have noticed that there is suddenly far less Russian animation there than there used to be. A number of accounts have been removed, including those of arjlover, crazysister, hkristus, Humanophage, julia2night, pavlovich74, TheMotionBrigades, uncloser, and Wunder8484. From those, arjlover belonged to the eponimous website and julia2night belonged to Julia who was one of the most prolific translators; she translated or helped translate about 44 Russian cartoons to English and German. My own account was hit as well (though not deleted).

The History of the Perpetrator

The complaints all came from a company called Funtik Entertainment. I immediately tried to find out who they were, as I had never heard of them, and was curious about their motivations. For years, it seemed that nobody in Russia minded Russian cartoons being on Youtube and other similar sites - many of the directors openly encouraged it, even if their producers didn't, and posted their films up themselves, or gave other accounts such as pavlovich74 the permission to upload them. Perhaps this is because the internet was one of the few places for many films to reach an audience, because most of them weren't shown on television or theatres ("no money and an audience" being better than "no money and no audience"). The only complaint I had previously received about my Youtube account in 5 years on the site was from Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., who had claimed to own the copyright to some Russian Dr. Seuss adaptations that had been made without their blessing or knowledge in the first place.

I found Funtik Entertainment mentioned in three Russian-language articles:
http://www.animator.ru/index.phtml?p=show_news&nid=590
http://www.animator.ru/articles/article.phtml?id=110
http://www.sovetmult.ru/novosti/240211.php

It seems that Funtik is not a studio, but a small company that holds the rights to the Funtik character owned by Valeriy Shulzhik, who wrote the screenplays for four late-1980s cartoons about a little pig with that name. 5 years ago, Funtik Entertainment was officially accused of copyright infringement for licensing the image of the character to commercial entities but neglecting to pay any of the proceeds to the art directors who had drawn him (similar to what Eduard Uspenskiy was doing at the same time, incidentally).

In 2005, Dina Goder wrote about how Funtik Entertainment somehow received a government contract to make a feature film about Funtik: "And now, having secured the promise of government support for a feature-length Funtik film, Shulzhik came to Pilot animation studio to order this film made (naturally, expecting a significant "kickback"), and after being refused, went with the same proposal to the young Peterburg studio, from which they were also sent packing. "How," Tatarskiy raged, "could they have promised him money, knowing that he cannot create any film at all, since he has no studio?".

Funtik Entertainment eventually struck a deal with Soyuzmultfilm and the first three short films were released last December, with a promise of more to come.

What Happened Last Week

On July 19, Funtik Entertainment sent out dozens, perhaps hundreds, or complaints to Youtube claiming ownership of many Russian animated films and ordering those film to be taken down.

They raised a complaint against myself as well; within the span of 16 minutes (6:30-6:46pm), I received notifications from Funtik Entertainment about 5 subtitled cartoons that I had uploaded: "Gena the Crocodile 2/2", "Gena the Crocodile 1/2", "Shareholders (1/3)", "Vinni Pukh", "Thumbelina (1/3)". As this was my second strike on Youtube (in 5 years), I decided to leave on my own terms rather than wait for a third.

On July 20, I received a PM from the former owner of the pavlovich74 account, and we compared notes. Ilya told me: "within 15 minutes or so I received close to 40 emails telling me that Funtik had layed [sic] claims to between 3 and 10 films on my site at a time/each email alert (that seems more like a software program doing the work rather than a real person making a logical decision on what is a copyright infringement and what is not)."

On my channel and Ilya's, Funtik only seem to have brought notices against the films of Soyuzmultfilm, ignoring films by other studios. It wasn't very methodical; probably they just typed "союзмультфильм" into the search box and deleted every video that came up. Due to their business relationship, it's conceivable that Funtik is friendly with someone at Soyuzmultfilm and did it on their behalf, rather clumsily making it seem like they were claiming to be the owners of the films.

Whatever the reason, it's not because of money. If Funtik or Soyuzmultfilm wanted money, Youtube allowed them to claim ownership of videos, then put advertisements on them and receive money every time they're viewed. This is exactly what fake copyright groups like QuizGroupMovies do on Youtube - they randomly claim to own hundreds of videos, put advertisements on them and collect money, counting on the fact that most people won't bother to fight the process. In fact, one of my videos that Funtik took down had already been "claimed" by MyVideoRights (MVR) and QuizGroupMovies, who put an advertisement on it and collected money from it (I myself have never collected a cent - this translation project is entirely noncommercial).

Ilya suggests that this might have something to do with the fallout from the recent success of Russian animators in attracting Putin's attention to their problems (a story which I've entirely missed covering here - I'm very sorry).

Next Steps

Translating works of art (like Russian animated films) is important because it allows people from different cultures to understand each other a little more. Because of copyright laws, doing unlicensed translations these days is like publishing samizdat in the Soviet period. But it will not be stopped. People want to talk.

It is very unfortunate that Funtik Entertainment's recent actions have caused dozens of Russian animated films to become inaccessible to English-speaking audiences, because they have deleted the only translations that existed of them.

I'd like to be able to show these films to others without getting harassed... and after all, the old model of television over antenna was that the channels were free to watch, and you "paid" by watching advertisements. I don't see why such a system couldn't be replicated with internet video... content creators allow anyone to share their content, while they get to choose the ad content that plays before it. In this way, they get money, and they get their audience to do the distribution for them, make translations into other languages, and so on. Basically, they don't have to do anything except rake in the cash, so this proposal would seem to be an attractive one for them. Otherwise this cat and mouse game will never end... as for "illegal video sharers", I think a lot of us would agree to proactively tell the rightsholders about any films that we upload to Youtube, and let them get the ad revenue from them, if it were then guaranteed that they wouldn't be taken down.

In any case, I will try to recover as much of what was lost as I can. A few months ago, I used the "Google2SRT" program to download as many subtitles as I could find for Russian animation on Youtube, including from julia2night (whose channel was deleted). In the weeks ahead, I'll try to make those translations available somewhere (until then, feel free to ask me for any specific ones).

As for where to host videos, it would be nice if there was a video sharing site in Spain that could be used, since in Spain, non-commercial media sharing is legal, but I haven't found one.

What is needed is to move everything to a website that allows streaming video with embedded (not hardcoded) subtitles. I'm currently exploring a few different options for where to reupload all of my videos as well as those from other channels that were lost such as julia2night's, including:
1. another Youtube account
2. Dailymotion
3. DotSub
4. BitLet decentralized video streaming - all files will need to be in .ogv format
5. TS Magic Player

Probably the final solution will be some combination; also, the last two options are presenting some technical challenges that I haven't yet figured out. But in any case, getting everything back will take some time.

Streaming torrents would probably be more long-lasting and safer from getting taken down, but there might be a problem with speed if there are too few people seeding.

If you have any other suggestions, please speak out!
  • :(((((((

    sooooo pity
    do not have any suggestions for now
    may be it can somehow go through Creative Commons
  • I'm so sorry for this

    (Anonymous)
    I'm a fan of russian animation, I was following pavlovich as well, being a 3D artist myself I find lots of inspiration of different cinematographic and cultural visions than the western approaches. I've found that www.veehd.com to be very safe to upload videos and specially since they can stream with divx web player.

    In case some videos are copyrighted and they need to be hidden, you can have private videos and only friends can see them, despite sharing the link the user wouldn't be able to see it until he's a friend of the account holder.

    Eduardo Altamirano
    www.cgmodelers.com
  • this is terrible. I enjoyed many of the animations you made avaiable, and I can only thing about how much hard work has been lost due to these events...
    I have never thanked you for this blog, but I feel like this is a good time to do so... thanks from Brazil! I hope the plan works out!
    • Thanks for the kind words. I am careful to keep backups of everything, so the only hard work that was really lost is the actual act of uploading videos to Youtube (which is still an annoying amount... it does take time). Julia2night may not have been so lucky - last year (or the year before, I forget), she told me that she had no backups of her translations that were taken down before.

      I am more worried about all the Youtube discussions that were lost (there were some interesting ones), as well as how many blog posts all throughout the internet that linked to my videos will now have broken links.

      Well, the Youtube discussions aren't really "lost" because I at least still have access to them; that was the point of moving away voluntarily instead of waiting for a third strike.
  • No...

    (Anonymous)
    What a shame. Let's hope everything will be for the best. Your work of translation and transmission of those russian gems was a great way to make it discover to people who had no other way to see them.
    I thank you from France for what you (and the other translators) have done, and hope for the best!
    Payoti
  • Loss

    Although I lost a lot of contacts and time spent on uploading the films I think I am going to have fun starting all over again. I'll steer clear of Soyuzmultfilm content for a while.
    The main loss in my opinion is for people that miss out on seeing the films.
    • Re: Loss

      guys, I just went to pavovlich74 account to see his feed and got desperated when I saw his account was deleted. I didn't finish reading niffiwan's text, but I am already enraged with this company. They don't have the right to stop the spread of russian animations, even because, as was said, the directors gave the authorization for the uploading of the movies. We should mobilize ourselves against this company, see what we can do. we can't let things like this. you guys have all my support for anything you need about spreading what happenned and getting support of others, signatures, I don't know... here is my e-mail (msn): roxxy_riot@hotmail.com
      you can contact me if you want! I will stick around.
      peace.
    • Re: Loss - Emily Kaplan - Expand
  • Кошки под дождем (Алексей Демин, 2001)

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  • (Anonymous)
    I'm an American who is a fan of the "Captain Pronin" cartoon series. I was dismayed to see that the English translations of the first two shorts were taken down, especially since I'd commissioned a translator to translate the fourth short into English, and am preparing to put it online.

    Do you know if the translations survive anywhere? Any help would be MUCH appreciated.
  • it's pitty :(

    It is awfully and very unfair...

    // Ilya suggests that this might have something to do with the fallout from the recent success of Russian animators in attracting Putin's attention to their problems (a story which I've entirely missed covering here - I'm very sorry). //

    Any way, I see an odd coincidence in this case. I'd would not make any suppositions without the facts, but I guess that somebody has suddenly seen the light regarding Soviet animation as a profitable business. Obviously, after recent the animators' and Putin's meeting, some people want to turn things to own advantage.
  • (Anonymous)
    I was cleaning my channel, then, i realized that all my animation from Russian animator was vanished ....what a shame ... those animation were my fav. How can i get in touch with you ? Is it possible to get those animation elsewhere ? Thanx for the help
    Franck/ pewploid youtube channel
    • Well, you are "in touch" with me right now, technically. ;) You could also send me a private message through my Youtube account (which is still there) or through LiveJournal.

      As I said, the animations are being reuploaded in a few different places, to provide mirrors in case one location goes down. The most complete location at the moment is here. Other places are here, here and here. I'm focusing on getting everything back up in at least one location as quickly as possible, then the others will follow. I chose DailyMotion for that "main" location because it's the easiest, even though the video quality is generally not as nice.
    • Darn - - Expand
    • Thank you! - - Expand
  • Стоило поздравить Союзмультфильм с 75-летием. С You Tube уд

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  • Video sharing in Spain

    I think I send the last comment twice. Ir maybe I didn't send it at all?? I'm new at LJ. Anyways, I think I got the links wrong, sorry for the trouble.

    The laws about copyright in Spain are very strict and we are moving all the video sharing hosts abroad. That article it's too optimistic, the new laws allow the Government to close any site without the need of a judge. Even if later they have to re open it, before you have to spend years going to trials and paying lawyers.

    I'm pretty sure about this because I'm studying Law, and that's the kind of stuff we spend hours talking about in the seminaries. You may find a way, but you have to hide everything like we do because at least in this country it's still illegal. A judge can't change a law, never.
    • Re: Video sharing in Spain

      I did actually receive notifications about your three messages in my email, but oddly enough only the third one has actually shown up here.

      Hm, well I did suspect it was probably too good to be true to believe that there might be a safe haven in the European Union. If there is one anywhere, it would be in some country in open political opposition to the U.S. - however, those are also the countries that tend to have bad internet networks, so wouldn't be likely to have any sites like that.

      The best hope at this point, I think, is if Youtube's Content ID system becomes a popular distribution method, and companies choose to put ads on content that belongs to them instead of removing it. I think the problem might be that the ads are too short right now - think about how many ads there are on television. It will probably require just as many ads to make the distribution system just as attractive for copyright holders.

      I hope the guys at Youtube figure it out.

      Meanwhile, if you're trying to find something, make sure you check the lists here. They're being updated, bit by bit, with working links.
  • TheMotionBrigades

    (Anonymous)
    Hey, Motion Brigades here. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. I won't be making another channel but if there were some rare pieces you'd like to get copies of to reupload I'd be happy to help. justinjezewski@gmail.com
    • Re: TheMotionBrigades

      That's a shame. You always gave a lot of historical background on each of the pieces. Your channel was incredibly educational.
  • Именем Фунтика... / Funtik Entertainment purges Russian animation from Youtube

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  • here is a curious opinion regarding Funtik company:

    http://silverrat.livejournal.com/21554.html?thread=137778#t137778

    the news: it might be a juridical collision after if the state film collection (Объединённая госколлекция) will be abolished; a juridical uncertainty:

    http://www.animator.ru/index.phtml?p=show_news&nid=1437

    Did the Funtik's managers guess about it?
    • Hold on... is that article saying that Soyuzmultfilm's catalogue will be in the public domain?

      It then says that this wouldn't be very good because the companies that had already paid to use the rights would not get their money's worth.

      Seems to me there's a simple solution: refund the companies whatever they paid.

      But... I doubt that something of that magnitude will happen, really. It would be too good to be true.
  • Youtube closed

    (Anonymous)
    Good to know you have a dailymotion account now. My Youtube account with many Russian animations was closed as well suddenly a few months ago, but only because I had some Little Mole animations on it! (They said)it was on there for more than 3 years, I couldn't even remove them since I had had one previous warning for an old Warner Brothers thing. Well..I'm never going back to Youtube again, since I hate the way they did this.
    I've searched for a new place but didn't find it. I tried Veoh, but Dailymotion seems better. Thanks for the tip!
    Will try Dailymotion myself. Good Luck and we should not be discouraged. (Mionis)marion
  • Hola

    (Anonymous)
    Hey there
  • sounds strange...

    (Anonymous)
    I was wondering where did so many good russian animations go... It's a pity, they are the films that have become dearest to me in year or so. But it's so good you have the daily motion and dotsub-accounts for them!
    And I'm so glad I had some of them downloaded before it started happening. been sharing two of my favourites on my page (grey bearded lion (without subs, I've never seen it with them..) and there lived kozyavin) and one czech one from Trnka (certuv mlyn), which never was before on youtube.
    Fortunately forgot to credit Soyuzmultfilm on tags or anything like that, just the animator makers I put there, and i was thinking of putting more, but what is the situation nowadays? Or am I in danger to lose my account if I increase amount of russian animations?
    Also the newer one that brought me here, Pirat from jan bubenicek, which I just saw in film festival, was lost and there was text that Funtik Entertainment was the one that had put it down, but i thought that was a modern czech animation... Can they own rights to that also?
    And that thing with the Funtik Entertainment sounds alltogether really strange.. But copyright things nowadays are.. i could hardly if at all keep on track what is really happening..

    Joona Ruusuvuori/ Runokuva Projektiot
    • Re: sounds strange...

      It's very interesting what you say about Jan Bubenicek's "Pirat"... as I see from the link to the former video on Youtube, Funtik is apparently claiming to own not just Soyuzmultfilm's copyrights. Yeah, this confuses things even more for me. What's their game? The closest I've come to seeing any official statement from them is the recent post by David R. Silvester, who appears to be their spokesperson or close friend.

      Khrzhanovskiy's "Grey-Bearded Lion" I actually made subtitles for a while ago, but I never got around to uploading it because I was looking for a better-quality version of the video. I'd better upload that soon, I guess... probably I won't find a better copy anyway.

      As for Youtube, the situation is this: if you upload a video, sometimes your video will be automatically rejected once you've uploaded it, because Youtube's ContentID recognizes that the same video has been deleted before. No penalty for you in that case, but nobody gets to see it either. If you upload a video, and it's NOT rejected, it may later get tagged through Youtube's ContentID, either by a legitimate rightsholder or just by a fake rightsholder trying to make some easy money. They may choose to put ads on it - in that case you're fine. But if they choose to REMOVE it, you get a strike on your account. Three such strikes, and your account gets deleted.
  • Funtik Bastards!

    Yeah I'd noticed that those sons of bitches had cleared the net of Soyuzmultfilm titles!
    I truly want to go to Russia and kill them with my bare hands!
    Here in the US there's an LA based bunch of crooks called "Jove" video that "claims'" to own the rights to all Soyuzmultfilm product in the US. In reality their association with the studio has always been questionable.
    Fortunately before their "purge" I was able to file and save a large number of Soyuz stuff.
    I question again if they're even affiliated with Soyuzmultfilm at all.
    • Re: Funtik Bastards!

      I don't think Jove owns anything any more, at least not since they sold everything to Alisher Usmanov in 2007, who in turn handed everything over to the state channel Bibigon, and I don't know what happened after that.
  • Темы для говорения

    User mosrepetitor referenced to your post from Темы для говорения saying: [...] purges Russian animation from Youtube http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/38259.html  на русском [...]
  • (Anonymous)
    Idiotic of Youtube - and malicious of the funtik guys - to mess around with this. as someone who grew up in India reading the cold war era Misha magazine and watching Soviet animations I look forward to getting these with subtitles. Anyone who is doing it is doing something for the common good - so that we can show others that it was not only sickly sweet Disney cartoons that were being created in the 50s-80s. I suggest torrent and/or rapidshare will be the best idea. create a blog and add rapidshare links? And/or create torrents and seed - and I assure you I will seed too.
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