A new legislative framework on anti-piracy in Russia is designed to protect copyright holders by allowing authorities to block websites. But the legal provisions have been criticised for infringing civil rights. Here is an overview of how the legislation works in practice.
Anti-piracy in Russia
On 1st August 2013 a new anti-piracy law came into effect in Russia. The main aim of the legislation is to protect the rights copyright holders against piracy. The legislation opens up a whole new right of action for copyright holders.
Blocking access to websites
Copyright owners who discover that their content has been illegally made publicly available can now apply to a court asking for access to the relevant platform to be restricted.
If the court agrees, the copyright holder can then apply to the authorities to undertake the relevant measures required to limit access to the website.
The authority entrusted with this task is the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (ROSKOMNADZOR).
This supervisory authority has three days in which to identify the web host and to formally request that the illegal content be deleted. The web host then has one business day to inform the website operator that the illegal content must be removed and the website operator has a further day to comply.
If the illegal content is not removed within this time limit, access to the website is restricted by administrative order.
If the web host and the website operator continue to ignore the order to remove the content, the relevant details are passed on to the network operator who is then required to block, or at least partially block the website.
The website can only be unblocked if evidence is produced within three working days that the illegal content has been removed, or upon judicial order.
Russia’s law makers seemingly made good on their intentions to equip the media industry with strong weapon against piracy. The ability to block websites in this way and the proportionality of the measures has naturally been the topic of much debate amongst online communities in Russia.
It is doubtless that blocking websites infringes the civil rights of website operators. But on the other hand, the process is subject to judicial examination and administrative control.
On 4th October 2013 one Russian state television broadcaster applied for blocks on a series of file sharing websites. Consequently, the websites fast-torrent.ru, kinofilms.tv, kinopower.ru, seasonvar.ru, cinema-hd.ru, serial.net and tfilm.tv were blocked.
It is unclear how many more websites will be blocked, or whether the current blocks will be lifted. It is also difficult to predict whether the authority’s power to block websites will be used as the last bastion of legal protection or whether it will be degraded to administrative routine.
It remains to be seen how the implementation of the new legal framework on file sharing in Russia will be managed. However, in light of recent reports on the first criminal case in file sharing, it seems that Russia is developing a strong anti-piracy stance.