NABOKV-L post 0000532, Fri, 31 Mar 1995 06:30:12 -0800

Copyrights and Russian Citizens (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. The following is a response to Michael Juliar comment
about the unauthorized use of VN materials in connection with a reported
New York stage performance of KQKn by an East European group. Both
Juliar's original message and Andrei Ustinov's commentary follow.

From: Andrey Borisovich Ustinov <>
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <>
Subject: Copyrights and Russian Citizens

The following statement seems to be rather inadequate:

>Many former Eastern Bloc citizens, and Russians in
>particular, even though they have donned capitalistic
>cloaks, still don't seem to know or care about authors'
>rights. (The Lolita opera in Sweden is another recent

Well, Sweden is not exactly Eastern Bloc country. And if the performance of
K-Q-K was in New York what Eastern Bloc or Russian citizens, especially
those who do not wear capitalist cloaks, have to do with it?

>Is it this author in particular? Do they feel that they
>somehow "own" VN and don't have to request the right to
>translate or stage his work? Or do they feel they couldn't
>afford royalties? Or is it possible that all over the US
>and Europe the emigre communities, as a carryover from
>their communistic past, still don't care about the
>reproduction rights of any authors? I wonder.

As a respected bibliographer of Nabokov's ouevre you know that K-Q-K was
published in Berlin, and if there were any rights back in 1928, they
belonged to "Slovo" publishing house, which long ceased its existence.
Another matter is that it is basically impossible to find someone to get a
permission to use and reprint Nabokov's works or even publish Nabokov's
letters which were sent to other people and actually after they were sent
lost their legal status of being a copyright property. As far as I know
scholars do their best to reach Dmitrii Nabokov, who I believe has a sole
right to grant or refuse permission for publications (correct me if I am
wrong), but they do not always succeed. Nevertheless, some of the recent
publications, executed "na svoi strakh i risk", like a notable publication
of Nabokov's correspondence with Academic Rostovtsev by Bongard-Levin in
"NLO", are of extreme imporatnce to Nabokov studies.

Perhaps, you can give me a recipe whom I should contact in order of getting
a permission to publish Nabokov's correspondence with "Petropolis"
publishers regarding the book edition of "Dar" that never happened? I
believe in many instances Nabokovians just miss factual proofs for their
speculations, because large groups of his letters were published in small
excerpts by Brian Boyd in his biographies. But will fragments of documents
instead of actual documents (some of them are rather large like vast
correspondence with Gleb Struve) be sufficient for the scholars?

Andrey Ustinov