Magazine article Screen International

Russia's New Anti-Piracy Law Is Positive, Not Perfect

Magazine article Screen International

Russia's New Anti-Piracy Law Is Positive, Not Perfect

Article excerpt

Elena Trusova, a partner at international law firm Goltsblat BLP, examines what the industry needs to know about the new Russian internet piracy law.

On August 1 the Russian film industry welcomed a new and eagerly-awaited law 'On Combating Internet Piracy' designed to curb illegal distribution of films and TV series on the web. The law is a highly positive and much-needed development, bringing Russian copyright law into the 21st century. Industry experts estimate that annual losses to the film business from pirated content are over $4 billion, so film and sound recording companies have high hopes for the anti-piracy law. However, questions have been raised about its effectiveness and aspects of the law are still a work in progress. So what do claimants need to know to make it work for them?

What's new?

The need for a more up-to-date legal framework in line with the realities of the digital age has been obvious for some time. Until now there were no provisions in the Russian legal system to reflect the fact that the internet, social networking and file-sharing portals are now part of our daily lives and online piracy has been rife across Russia for years. For the first time in Russian legal history, the anti-piracy law establishes the concept of 'information intermediary' - a new term defined quite broadly to include administrators, hosting-providers and websites providing links to illegal content, rather than the content itself - who can be held accountable for copyright infringement.

In other words, the law facilitates the prosecution of website owners violating intellectual property rights. It also enables courts to block websites that violate copyright laws if illegal content is not removed within the timeframe specified.

Will it work in practice?

We have already seen positive examples of the law being applied successfully. It is helping to stop illegal distribution of TV series such as Interns and The IT Crowd following a claim by media firm Seichas earlier this month. However, the anti-piracy law also has some vocal critics who argue that its wording is too broad to work in practice and could almost be a threat to freedom of information and civil liberties.

Of course, the law is not perfect and greater clarity on a number of points would benefit everyone. …

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