Russia’s Anti-Piracy Deal to Delete Content From Search Engines Extended Until 2021

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The ground-breaking anti-piracy deal signed by Russia-based content and Internet platforms in 2018 will not be written into local law any time soon. The agreement, which sees search engines voluntarily delete allegedly-infringing links, was supposed to be formalized in recent months but in the face of complexities and parliament being tied up with other things, will now be extended until 2021.

When leading content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum in 2018, new ground was broken in Russia.

Assisted by the creation of a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content, Internet platforms agreed to voluntarily query the resource in near real-time before deleting content from their search indexes. The plan was to make pirated content harder for users to find and within months, hundreds of thousands of links were being purged.

The end-game was to have the terms of the agreement written into local law but as some expected, things didn’t run entirely to plan. Early October 2019, with the memorandum a year old, it effectively timed out. Negotiations ensued and a short extension was agreed but a deadline of end October came and went without a draft being presented to parliament.

With another deadline missed, an automatic extension to end December 2019 came into play but it’s now clear that the plan to formalize the agreement in law is still a very long way off.

During a meeting at the Media and Communications Union, the industry association formed by the largest media companies and telecom industry players, the parties – with assistance from telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor – have now agreed to another extension. The voluntary agreement will now continue for at least another year, the clearest indication yet that this isn’t a straightforward matter.

According to industry sources cited by Vedomosti (paywall), the decision not to push ahead now towards legislation was taken jointly by the signatories and Roscomnadzor.

While many specifics aren’t being made public, sources indicate that the mechanism for resolving disputes between the copyright holders and Internet platforms has proven complex. Another area of disagreement centers around demands from rightsholders and content companies to have sites delisted on a permanent basis, if they are repeatedly flagged as offering links to infringing content.

Another key issue is that under the current system there is a clear bias towards video content and the largest copyright holders, while others have to take a back seat or are left out altogether. It will take a considerable period of time to overcome these hurdles, a situation that isn’t helped by a reported lack of time in the State Duma to deal with the legislation.

As a result, the memorandum will now be extended to the end of January 2021, to allow the parties and the government to come up with a credible framework before writing it into law.

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