280 ‘Pirate’ Sites Have Been Restricted in Russia

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Access to more than 280 'pirate' websites has been restricted in Russia since the introduction of an amended copyright law in 2013. In addition to The Pirate Bay and giant Ukrainian file-hosting site EX.ua, streaming sites including Primewire are also affected. Next week rightholders will apply for leading local torrent site RUTracker to be blocked forever.

stopstopFollowing intense pressure from both local and international rightsholders, just over two years ago Russia took important steps towards cracking down on Internet piracy.

August 1, 2013, saw the introduction of a brand new copyright law which provided rightsholders with a mechanism to have sites blocked by ISPs if they do not respond to takedown requests within 72 hours.

Reporting on the first two years of activity, local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor has now revealed the extent to which the legislation has been used by rightsholders and what action has been taken.

“Since August 1, 2013, Roskomnadzor has received 189 complaints from rights holders. It is worth noting that currently we are limiting access to 282 sites that violate copyright and related rights,” Roskomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov told RIA.

Unsurprisingly the list includes The Pirate Bay, which had restrictions imposed in June 2015 following a complaint from Mosfilm, one of the largest European movie studios.

Other sites currently blocked include popular movie streaming site Primewire. Ukraine-based file-hosting giant EX.ua is also affected, alongside library sites flibusta.net loveread.ws, which combined are good for more than 40 million visitors per month. Sports streaming portal Livetv.sx, which reportedly attracts 27 million visits, is also restricted.

While blockades in Russia can be full, partial or lifted if cooperation is forthcoming, earlier this year authorities made it clear that repeat offenders would not be tolerated. Amendments to copyright law introduced May 1 indicated what lay ahead.

“This development will mean that the systematic violation of intellectual property rights will result in sites providing access to stolen content being blocked forever,” the government announced.

It now appears that RUTracker, Russia’s most-visited torrent site, and popular music portal ProstoPleer, have tested that promise to breaking point.

“A few days ago an appeal was filed by an association of rightsholders that will require constant blocks on two of biggest pirate resources,” Roskomnadzor’s Zharov confirms.

Both RUTracker and Pleer were subjected to earlier copyright complaints but reportedly failed to deal with them as required under the law. The current action comes from the National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI), a group which counts Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI among its members.

“We plan to file a statement with the court on Monday or Tuesday,” says NFMI CEO Leonid Agronov.

The music industry group said it tried to negotiate with the sites regarding the removal of pirated content but those discussions failed to yield results. Countering, Pavel Rassudov from the local Pirate Party feels that blockades will prove ineffective.

“People learn how to bypass these blocks, and the increase in their number will only lead to more frequent use of CGI proxies and the Tor network,” Rassudov says.

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