File Sharing

First criminal conviction for file sharing in Russia

The first criminal case for file sharing in Russia has ended with a couple being found guilty. The two were given suspended sentences of four years each. The couple could also face a compensation claim of €930m.

First criminal conviction for file sharing in Russia ©-Sergej-Khackimullin-Fotolia

First criminal conviction for file sharing in Russia ©-Sergej-Khackimullin-Fotolia

File sharing in Russia

In the first ever criminal case concerning file sharing in Russia, a married couple has been found guilty of making almost 30 copyright-protected films and cartoons publicly available on file sharing websites. Their actions contravened art. 146 III of the Russian Criminal Code.

It emerged during the trial that the couple had worked together with an accomplice living in Germany to start the websites interfilm.ru and puzkarapuz.ru. The trio used a Dutch web hosting service to illegally distribute films and make them publicly available. The actions infringed the rights of several well-known film companies.

The two were handed suspended sentences of four years for their role in the crime. The trade magazine, Russian Business Consulting, reports that the couple were given suspended sentences as they had no previous convictions and because they have minor children.

In addition, the couple could face a possible claim for compensation amounting to 37.8bn roubles (930m euros). There is currently no information as to whether the couple will actually have to pay such high compensation. However, under Russian law, the copyright holders could bring a tortious claim for compensation using the criminal convictions as a basis.

Strong precedence

This criminal case is the first of its kind in Russia and is a warning signal to all those who participate in file sharing.

As the reliance on precedent cases is growing amongst the Russian judiciary, this judgment is sure to have a profound effect on subsequent cases. We would therefore advise all the followers of our blog to refrain from conducting file sharing whilst in Russia.

The above case is a strong indication, that file sharing will continue to be relentlessly pursued in Russia.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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