The ‘anti-piracy’ law that came into force on August 1st 2013 allows the authorities to order Russian Internet providers to block websites once copyright holders file a complaint alleging sites are distributing pirated content, or have links to pirated content. The block is valid for 15 days, during which time the copyright holder must prepare and file a lawsuit. Otherwise the block is lifted automatically.
The law orders all piracy claims be sent to the Moscow City Court, a measure which has been criticized by Internet specialists and the broader public, who state that it creates an unnecessary caseload for judges, and that it also discriminates against Russians who live outside of the capital city.
The Russian Internet community has claimed the anti-piracy law to be harmful to Internet business and open to potential abuse. An online petition to repeal the law received more than 15,000 signatures. The move to cancel the controversial anti-piracy law came less than one month after its official introduction.
The petition was published on the Russian Public Initiatives (ROI) website on July 2, shortly after President Vladimir Putin signed the bill – designed to protect against film piracy – into law. This law was broadened on September 17th by a new bill allowing for websites to be blocked if they contain any copyright-infringing content, including copyrighted music and software.
The original bill allowed the banning of whole IP blocks – which are often shared by hundreds of websites, all of which would be affected if one of them is blacklisted – and made enforcing the bans the responsibility of Internet service providers. The new bill would provide for banning by URL – the individual address of a webpage – and would ease sanctions for “informational intermediaries” such as hosting providers and search engines involved in providing access to copyright-infringing content. For the Russian Internet, which has always been a space for free content, it is a shocking change. Many of the companies participating in our research project were not able to find time for an interview, as they were swamped with enormous amounts of extra paperwork related to the new laws.