Russia Plans to Block Pirate Sites Without Trial & De-Anonymize Their Operators


Russia’s Ministry of Culture has tabled new amendments to copyright law that will allow rightsholders to order web hosts to block pirate sites without trial, if they are unresponsive to takedown demands. Site owners will also be forced to publish their names and addresses on their platforms but it’s not yet clear how this can be enforced.

Like most regions in the world, Russia has an online piracy problem, with millions of citizens regularly using pirate sites to access free movies, music, TV shows, and other content.

Russia is already a world-leader when it comes to site-blocking but if new proposals are written into law, life for pirate site owners could become much more difficult.

Back in 2018 the Ministry of Culture began mulling amendments to copyright law and this week it became clear that it has a tightened site-blocking regime in mind, along with other significant changes.

Local publication RBC had the opportunity to review the draft, which includes measures for the blocking of sites where pirated content is made available, without rightsholders having to go to court as they do now.

Instead, they will be able to go directly to the web hosts of sites making content available without a license, with instructions to block platforms, if they are unresponsive to takedown demands.

Furthermore, if the amendments are approved, owners of platforms where pirated content is made available will be compelled to sacrifice their anonymity. All such sites will be required to publish the names, addresses, and other contact details of their owners.

It isn’t yet clear how this requirement will be enforced, or how contact details will be checked for authenticity. However, it seems unlikely that company names and/or home addresses (in the case of individuals) will be willingly given up, particularly when site operators are already breaking the law by knowingly hosting or linking to infringing content.

The draft amendments were agreed by the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, and the Ministry of Economic Development, after consultation with entertainment industry companies, RBC reports.

News of the amendments arrives just days after authorities held talks with major rightsholders, hosting platforms, and search providers, with the aim of writing the terms of an anti-piracy memorandum into law.

The currently voluntary agreement aims to create an ever-growing centralized database of infringing content to enable hosting platforms and search engines to take down media and links both quickly and efficiently.

According to comments made this week by Sergey Selyanov, head of the Association of Film and Television Producers, the memorandum is working as planned.

Finally, local search giant Yandex has reportedly developed and launched its own set of tools for detecting pirated content online. Using information being made available in the recently-established piracy database, Yandex is using machine learning to “clean up” its own search results. The company is currently declining to offer any additional details.

Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.

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