Russia’s Anti-Piracy Law Triggers Blackouts and Protests

In a little under two weeks Russia's controversial new anti-piracy law will come into force. Enabling the blocking of websites that do not adequately respond to copyright infringement complaints, the legislation is scaring huge Internet outfits such as Google and Wikipedia. Now protests are being prepared by the Pirate Party on top of a SOPA-style web blackout by thousands of websites.

Following years of pressure from the United States and entertainment companies, Russia has passed new legislation aimed at cracking down on Internet-based copyright infringement.

From August 1 a new law will see copyright holders filing lawsuits against sites facilitating copyright infringement. Site owners will be required to remove content and links to content within 72 hours, or face their entire domain being blocked at the ISP level pending the outcome of a court hearing.

However, it’s not just ‘pirate’ sites that are concerned at how this will play out. Internet giants including Google and Wikipedia have voiced concerns that they are facing an impossible mission to police their operations for infringements carried out by their millions of users.

The new law has the potential to chill online innovation in the name of protecting rightsholders, critics argue, and should be repealed as soon as possible. Moving towards this goal, opponents of the law are planning protests to mimic the great U.S. SOPA revolt of 2012.

The first part of the protest is aimed at drawing attention to the potential side-effects of the law, i.e the blocking of entire websites on copyright grounds.

rublackoutTo this end there will be a SOPA-style blackout on August 1 which is expected to gather support from thousands of websites, many running a ‘blackout’ script.

For those without a website who still want to make their voices heard, a petition calling for the law to be repealed has so far achieved 43,500+ signatures towards its 100,000 target.

In addition to Internet-based activities, offline or ‘AFK’ protests are being organized by the Pirate Party of Russia.

“Initially the authorities of Moscow denied us in holding a meeting at the place we proposed (Triumphalnaya square), but now we have reached a compromise with them. Similar meetings will be held in St. Petersburg, Tomsk, and other cities,” Pirate Party of Russia press secretary Natalia Malysheva told TorrentFreak.

“Blocking websites without a trial violates the presumption of innocence,” the party add. “The law does not address the systemic problems of copyright and its tightening will lead to a violation of the rights of Internet users. Therefore, this law should be repealed.”

The Moscow demonstration, set to take place against a backdrop of non-copyrighted music, will also provide workshops on the use of encryption technologies including VPNs and TOR.

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