On May 1, 2015, important amendments to Russian anti-piracy law1 came into effect. These amendments broaden the scope of the law to protect all copyrighted online content (with the exception of photographs), and introduce simplified steps to take down websites containing pirated content.
Background on Russia's anti-piracy law
Following pressure from Russian and international media companies, the Russian government introduced its anti-piracy law on Aug. 1, 2013.
The law initially provided copyright protection solely to movies uploaded on data and telecom networks - including the Internet - by blocking websites offering access to pirated video content.
On Nov. 24, 2014, further amendments to the anti-piracy law were introduced to provide stronger copyright protection. These amendments cover all copyrighted content, aside from photographs, and prescribe in more detail preliminary injunction procedures for enforcement against infringing websites.
Faster and clearer injunction procedures now available
- Starting on May 1, 2015, copyright and neighbouring rights-holders can file for a preliminary injunction with the Moscow City Court against an accused website owner under the anti-piracy law. All court-issued injunctions are available on the Moscow City Court website.
- If an injunction is granted, the rights-holder may file an application with Roskomnadzor,2 the federal ministry in charge, to restrict access to informational resources that distribute infringing content.
- Within three working days of Roskomnazor's receipt of the application, it will send a notification in Russian and English to the telecom operator providing hosting services to the infringing website.
- Within one business day, the hosting service provider must inform the website owner of their obligation to remove or restrict access to pirated content.
- Within one business day from the date of receipt of the notification, the website owner must remove the infringing materials.
- In case of non-compliance, the website will be blocked by the hosting service provider.
The law also provides sanctions for repeated violations, such as permanent blocking of the website. Infringement will be considered to be "repeated" if there is an effective prior decision of the Moscow City Court against the same website owner at the request of the same rights-holder.
Out-of-court measures now available to copyright holders
The new law also enables rights-holders to send take-down notices directly to the website owner - without having to go to court. Within 24 hours of receiving the notice, the website owner must either:
- remove infringing content;
- request additional information; or
- provide proof that the website owner is authorized to use the allegedly infringing content.
As of May 1, 2015, website owners must list their contact information on their website, including their name, postal address and e-mail address.
Digital fingerprinting: A potential tool to track violations
On March 20, 2015, the Russian Ministry of Communications and Media announced plans to create a registry of intellectual property rights-holders. On a voluntary basis, rights holders will be able to add their works to the registry, with the goal of creating an online piracy-monitoring system through of the use of digital fingerprinting.
Digital fingerprinting is a relatively new technology based on content-recognition software that identifies and compares digital data. The introduction of digital fingerprinting is expected to greatly enhance the Russian copyright enforcement system, as Russian law does not provide obligatory copyright registration - which can make the process of proving authorship more challenging.
However, it is still unclear how digital fingerprinting will determine the status of tracked material. Whether the software will be able to identify the material as within fair use remains to be seen.
Contributions to this article were also made by Meldir Erbulekova, a student-at-law in our Moscow office.
1 Federal law No. 187-FZ, "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Concerning the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Data and Telecom Networks."
2 Roskomnadzor is a Russian Federal Service with supervision over communications, information technology, and mass media.