Legal Movie Sites Could Get Special ‘Tag’ in Search Results to Deter Piracy

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Legal online video sites may soon feature a special marker in search results if proposed amendments to copyright law are passed in Russia. The Ministry of Culture believes that giving consumers the opportunity to instantly identify official platforms will deter piracy. However, the quid pro quo is that markers will only be awarded to sites that report viewing figures to entertainment companies and the government.

While many pirate site users already know the direct URLs of their favorite free movie resources, entertainment industry groups feel that search engines still play a key role in unlicensed content discovery.

As a result, anti-piracy companies are continuously tasked with having allegedly-infringing results removed from search results offered by companies such as Google, in an effort to minimize traffic to pirate sites.

In Russia, which is rapidly emerging as world-leader in anti-piracy strategies, the government now wants to take things a step further by modifying search results to include a ‘tag’ or marker that clearly identifies legal video platforms.

According to local news outlet Vedomosti, the proposal forms part of an amendment to copyright law penned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture.

“We expect that in this way users will make a more informed choice not in favor of pirates, but in favor of legal platforms,” says Olga Lyubimova, director of the cinematography department of the Ministry of Culture.

While having a gold star or similar marker next to a site’s listing may help users to better identify legal offerings, the government isn’t planning to hand out endorsements on a whim. Movie and TV companies want to get a better idea of what content is being viewed and in what volumes. As a result, sites to be considered for preferential marking will have to give something back.

Russian cinemas are already required to report data on all tickets sold but there is no equivalent for online viewing resources, leaving production companies to complain that they need more information. The current proposals would require legal online providers to provide such data to content companies and the government.

If they do not, it’s suggested they could be declared illegal with various repercussions, not least the inability to be highlighted in search results as a legitimate provider.

The proposal to highlight legal platforms in search results is in addition to a ground-breaking agreement reached in Moscow last year. Signed by major rightsholders, Internet companies, and search providers, the pact sees Internet platforms query a centralized database of infringing content to ensure that none of it is presented on their platforms.

It’s expected to be written into law but in common with the search tagging proposal, the precise details are still being hammered out.


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