Google Meets Russian Govt Body to Discuss Ongoing Piracy Issues

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Google has been officially invited to become a signatory to the anti-piracy memorandum signed in Moscow earlier this month. During a meeting with government telecoms body Roscomnadzor on Wednesday, Google's recent violation of Russian law was also discussed. The search giant is facing a fine after it displayed links to permanently banned sites within its search results.

On November 1, 2018, Russia’s most powerful technology and entertainment companies signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to tackle online piracy.

The agreement, designed to rid all major platforms of infringing content, saw movie, television, and Internet companies agree to the formation of a central database of infringing sites, which will provide information on what content should be deleted.

While Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up, Google did not. However, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor suggested that Google would be welcome to join, when the time is right.

To that end, discussions continued in Moscow Wednesday, with Deputy Head of Roscomnadzor Vadim Subbotin meeting with Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Public Policy & Government Relations for Europe, Middle East & Africa Emerging Markets.

During the meeting, Google was officially invited to join the anti-piracy memorandum, which in some respects is already aligned with the requirements of the DMCA. However, instead of Google receiving complaints directly from copyright holders, the memorandum requires that details of infringing content are held in a database administered by Roscomnadzor.

The plan is for the database to be queried every five minutes by the signatories, who will use the data to remove infringing content from search results and hosting services. No further information in respect of Google has been released by Roscomnadzor so it remains unclear whether the US-based company is prepared to deviate from its current takedown notice procedure under the DMCA.

Another topic of discussion was Google’s failure to connect its systems to another centralized database that contains a list of permanently blocked websites. Search engines operating in Russia are obliged to connect to the resource but to date, Google has not.

Several weeks ago, Roscomnadzor contacted Google with a demand that it begins filtering its search results using data obtained from the country’s ‘FGIS’ blacklist. Google did not comply, which led the telecoms watchdog to declare that the search giant is in breach of federal law.

That left Google vulnerable to an administrative fine of between 500,000 and 700,000 rubles (US$7,611 to US$10,656). While insignificant in monetary terms, the matter will have to be decided by a court, with Roscomnazor considering its position thereafter. Following the meeting, however, there’s a sign that things may be progressing.

“The meeting discussed a wide range of issues on the implementation by Google of the provisions of Russian legislation,” a Roscomnadzor statement reads.

“One of the key points of the talks was to discuss the situation around the violation by the company of the requirements of Russian law to ensure the filtering of Google search results of information prohibited in Russia.

“Doron Avni will present the proposed mechanisms for resolving the situation at Google’s corporate center in California,” the watchdog added.

In other news concerning the anti-piracy memorandum, work on the centralized database is already underway. Head of Gazprom-Media Dmitry Chernyshenko told reporters that copyright holders were working hard to establish the resource.

“I know that those creating this platform are working with might and main. The preliminary filling of the database is already beginning,” Chernyshenko said.

According to the media boss, the full database should be completed in around three months’ time although it will need to be continually updated.


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