Russia Moves To Hold ISPs Responsible For Illegal File-Sharing

The cyber crime department of Russia's Interior Ministry says it intends to get tough on the country's ISPs when their customers share copyrighted or otherwise illegal material. Authorities say they are currently carrying out nationwide checks on ISPs' local networks and could bring prosecutions as early as next month.

Having largely failed in their earlier bids to aggressively target individual file-sharers, in recent times copyright holders and authorities have been forced to look elsewhere for someone to blame.

Worldwide lobbying efforts have borne fruit and now it’s almost routine to see ISPs dragged into the debate on illegal file-sharing and treated as if they are the reason the problem exists, or at the very least that it’s their place to take responsibility.

According to a report coming out of Russia, authorities there are about to get tough on Internet service providers whose local networks are being used to share copyrighted and other illegal material.

These networks, present within the ISPs’ own infrastructure, provide users’ access to a wealth of legal content and services such as Internet Relay Chat, but inevitably unauthorized content is available too. While there is no suggestion that the ISPs directly advertise the availability of such material, there are claims that they use the existence of these networks as a plus point when marketing their product.

Authorities say that in advance of a crackdown, the Interior Ministry’s cyber crime department is currently carrying out nationwide checks on Internet service providers. Results of that audit should be come available either late this month or during May.

However, according to representatives from three of the countries largest ISPs who spoke to Vedomosti.ru, none were aware of any investigations currently underway.

Penalties for direct copyright infringement in Russia can be as harsh as 6 years imprisonment. Extending liability to intermediaries is something being touted in a series of amendments to the country’s Civil Code proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev and passed to the State Duma last week. They could be in force as early as September.

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