Mail.ru Blasts Italy For Site Blocking Without Transparency

Mail.ru, Russia's fifth most popular domain, has blasted Italy for the blockade of its site on copyright grounds. The Internet giant says that it wasn't informed of any problems and was given no opportunity to engage. The censorship shows that some countries lack a "clear, transparent process for resolving conflicts", Mail.ru said.

stop-blockedEvery few weeks fresh sites are blocked in Italy on copyright grounds, following either court proceedings or hearings as part of the new AGCOM mechanism.

Many of the big ‘pirate’ sites – The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, for example – have been blocked for years but now the country seems intent on blacking out sites that are definitely not in the piracy business.

As reported here on Saturday, last week a judge sitting in the Court of Rome ordered local ISPs to block a total of 24 websites including Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz and Russia’s largest email provider, Mail.ru.

The size and importance of Mail.ru in its home country and further afield is noteworthy. It’s the fifth most-visited domain in Russia behind only Yandex, Google and social networking giant vKontakte, of which it owns 51.99%. It’s the 39th busiest site worldwide according to Alexa, servicing in excess of 27 million users per day.

In a statement this morning Mail.ru said it has still not been able to establish the specifics that lead to it being blocked in Italy. Eyemoon Pictures, the complainant in the case, made no attempt to discuss any issues with Mail.ru before heading off to court, the email giant said.

“[Eyemoon Pictures] made no attempt to resolve the situation pretrial,” the company said in a statement.

“No notification of illegal content or requirements to remove copies of [Eyemoon's] films has been addressed to Mail.Ru Group from law enforcement agencies and Italy.”

The company only realized there was a problem when users began complaining of accessibility issues on July 17.

“We learned of the court’s decision from our users, as well as publications in the public domain,” Mail.ru added.

Criticizing the effects of the blockade on its userbase, this morning Mail.ru hit out at Italy for taking action without due consideration.

“We believe that this situation is detrimental to the interests of our users, and clearly illustrates the fact that some national laws in this area does not consider the specifics of the Internet companies and do not provide a clear, transparent process for resolving such conflicts,” the company said.

“There needs to be an active dialogue on the development of international pre-trial procedures for resolving disputes between copyright holders and Internet service providers. Their introduction will improve the position of all parties, including users worldwide,” Mail.ru concludes.

At the time of writing, Mail.ru is still inaccessible in Italy with the company having made no progress towards having the censorship lifted.

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