On August 1, 2013, Russia implemented new legislation which allowed rightsholders to block video content that had been posted online illegally.
Following amendments, a year later the same protections were extended to other kinds of intellectual property, excluding photographic works.
On May 1, 2015, yet more new rules made it possible for sites to be permanently blocked if they are considered to repeat or persistent infringers. Authorities revealed that around 3,400 sites were affected.
Last year, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor revealed that around 5,000 were being blocked by local ISPs on copyright grounds. This put the country at the forefront of pirate site blocking worldwide. But the blocking efforts were to continue at an accelerated pace.
This week, to mark six years since the introduction of the original law and five since the amendments that allow most rightsholders to request a blocking order, Roscomnadzor told TASS that the total of blocked sites has rocketed.
“To date, Roskomnadzor has processed about 6 thousand complaints at the Moscow City Court on taking interim [blocking] measures,” a spokesperson from the watchdog told the publication.
This means that more than 9,500 ‘pirate’ sites are now blocked in Russia, almost double the amount reported last year. For reference, the United States, Russia’s fiercest critic when it comes to intellectual property issues, currently blocks zero sites on copyright grounds.
Just last week, Roscomnadzor revealed that it had taken drastic measures in order to protect the new series of Game of Thrones from piracy.
“Based on the claims of the right holders received by Roskomnadzor, response measures are being taken to restrict access to illegal copies of the foreign series Game of Thrones,” it said in a statement.
The watchdog revealed that the complaints led it to take action against 327 sites providing access to the infringing content.
While blocking pirate sites is an option in Russia, taking that kind of action against big legal sites such as social networking giant vKontakte isn’t practical. That’s why after almost six years of blocking, Eksmo – one of Russia’s largest publishers – sued vKontakte last month for the fourth time. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 24.