The most detailed article seems to be from RBC Daily (some others are here, here, here and here). It quotes Vasiliy Shilnikov, director of what was formerly the Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund and is now the United State Film Collection (covering Tsentrnauchfilm, Soyuzmultfilm, Lenfilm and Diafilm) saying that an agreement between them and Funtik Entertainment for licensing internet rights to their films existed since 2005, and is still in effect.
Igor Shulzhik, the co-owner of Funtik, is quoted as saying that they only took down videos which had advertisements added to them. "We are not against the distribution and popularization of cartoons, but a situation where people are posting this content online and putting ads into it does not suit us."
Shulzhik also says that there has been no talk of trying to monetize the online distribution: "Possibly, the United State Film Collection will some day decide to monetize its intellectual property online, but so far we have not been given such a directive".
The little piglet Funtik, the namesake of the company
I have never added ads to any of my videos. I've always wanted this translation project to be noncommercial, a way to foster communication by showing wonderful art from another culture. As I said in my prior post, I wouldn't object to having ads from the rightsholders on my channel's videos (Youtube's ContentID allows this).
However, in about 10 cases or so, fake copyright groups like "QuizGroupMovies" have claimed to own a video that I uploaded to Youtube and put ads on it. I was afraid to challenge the claims, because I thought that Youtube could just delete my whole channel if it was brought to their attention. At least some of the videos that Funtik flagged indeed had ads added by these fake copyright groups, though I'm not sure if all did.
Perhaps the problem is that Youtube has no process for copyright companies to remove the illegally-placed ads from a video, yet not delete the video in question (or maybe it does. Anyone know?).
In any case, now that Funtik has deleted the videos through ContentID, it is impossible for anyone to upload them to Youtube again without the ads; they get automatically rejected. So the overall effect is censorship, whether they mean it or not.
Even Ukraine is far ahead of Russia here. The great studio formerly known as Kievnauchfilm has hired the "Agency of Internet Rights" to digitize their vast catalogue of animation and put the films up on Youtube, free to watch on channelAIR (with ads to monetize, just like on TV). The person who maintains the channel seems to be friendly, so I sent them a message to ask about letting me upload the films on my own channel, with subtitles and their blessing (and giving them any revenue from the ads). Hopefully I'll hear from them once they log back in.
Anyway, for now, a backup of the original videos on my Youtube channel is up here. No ads, of course.
To Mr. Shulzhik of Funtik Entertainment, and Mr. Shilnikov of the United State Film Collection:
If you are serious about what you say, I would like it very much if Funtik Entertainment could retract the notices, and instead use ContentID to claim ownership of those videos but NOT delete them. This will allow you to add your own ads to the videos, or simply track statistics about the audience who watches them. It will also free me to file a counter-notification to Youtube against the fake copyright groups who added those ads. And it'll allow me to make my channel, which has been such a central place for English-speaking lovers of Russian animation, public once again.