File-Sharers Will Not Be Held Liable For Piracy, Russia Says

As Russia tries to find a balanced solution to the thorny issue of Internet piracy, the head of a government department responsible for communications and information technology says that attacking Internet users is not the solution. Speaking at the launch of a nationwide campaign to promote legal eBook purchases, Vladimir Grigoryev said that the government has no intention of holding downloaders liable or having them sent to court.

russiaFollowing ineffective anti-piracy campaigns and continued displays of resilience by file-sharing sites, the emphasis of copyright enforcement has switched towards ‘educating’ the end user in recent years.

These so-called “strike” programs are continuing to spread and recently landed on U.S. shores.

While they are supposedly educational in nature, there is a massive parallel problem with some rightsholders choosing to sue file-sharers instead. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens have been targeted in recent years.

This situation appears to be something the Russian government wants to avoid. According to the head of a government department with responsibility for communications, his country won’t proceed with holding Internet users liable for downloads, despite having many millions of file-sharers.

Speaking at the launch of the “Read Legally” campaign, a nationwide initiative to encourage citizens to obtain eBooks from official sources, Vladimir Grigoryev, head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (FAPMC), said that his country will not be following the more aggressive approaches at play in the U.S.

“We do not plan to hold Internet users liable for downloading as they do in the U.S., where owners of computers can end up in court,” Grigoryev said.

Russia does intend, however, to take a tougher stance with infringing sites. As reported in January, sites will be expected to conform to stricter notice and takedown standards if they are to avoid trouble.

“Responsibility [for illegal downloads] will be placed on the owners of pirate websites,” Grigoryev confirmed, adding that Russian file-sharers can expect to be subjected to advisory measures similar to those already underway in the United States.

“[File-sharers] will enter an educational campaign,” he said, stopping short of elaborating on how such a project would be operated.

The decision to focus on sites is something U.S. rightsholders will be keen to see in action. In recent years there have been endless complaints from the music industry, particularly over so-called AllofMP3 clones and VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook. To date little has been done to stop their growth, despite fiery complaints from the USTR.

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