Search Engines Given “Six Hours” to Delete Pirate Links Under New Law

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New amendments to Russian law developed by the largest media and search engines will require the latter to swiftly delete 'pirate' links from their indexes. According to local sources inside the working group, platforms like Yandex will be required to delete links within six hours after their appearance on infringing content databases, which must be queried every five minutes.

Copyright holders who want unlicensed copies of their material removed from online platforms are able to file requests under various laws in the United States and EU, for example.

Search engines such as Google also comply with such requests to remove links from their indexes, often doing so quickly, in many cases just a matter of hours. In Russia, however, removing links from search engines has proven problematic until a war of words in 2018 boiled over into an agreement between major entertainment companies and rights holders.

The memorandum saw companies like Yandex and other search providers agree to interface with a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content to take down links to content quickly. The voluntary agreement wasn’t part of Russian law but work has been going on to formalize its terms.

Local news outlet Vedomosti reports that is has been able to review the text of proposed amendments to copyright law, which the publication says are the result of negotiations between the largest TV companies, streaming providers (generically ‘online cinemas’), as well as Yandex and Group.

Overseen by telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, the amendments are an attempt to plug perceived holes in existing legislation. It’s currently possible to have ‘pirate’ web pages blocked quickly using the Moscow Court but the only deletions of specific URLs from search engines thus far have been voluntary ones, carried out under the memorandum.

The amendments will allow copyright holders to force search engines to delete allegedly-infringing links from their indexes without going to court, and within an extremely tight timeframe of six hours from notification.

According to local sources, copyright holders will be able to hire Roscomnadzor-approved companies to maintain databases of allegedly-infringing content on their behalf. There will not be any limit placed on the number of registries in use, as long as the authorities approve them.

Once these registries have been established, search engines will be required to interface with them within 10 days to obtain the details of allegedly infringing content. From the moment new content is registered, search companies will have to delete the corresponding entries from their indexes within six hours. Registries will have to be queried every five minutes.

It appears that after months of struggling with the details, the amendments to the law have now been completed are being sent to the presidential administration. From there they will be transferred to the State Duma’s Information Policy Committee for additional work before being submitted to parliament.

The chairman of the committee, Leonid Levin, confirmed he would receive the texts of the amendments in the coming days but added no further detail. It remains unclear whether a rightsholders’ request to have entire domains delisted from search results is still being entertained.

In common with many similar initiatives, this one has taken longer than expected. The draft anti-piracy amendments should’ve been submitted to the State Duma before the end of August because the clock was ticking on the terms of the voluntary memorandum, which according to the official timetable ran out September 1, 2019.

However, it was previously agreed that the parties involved would extend the memorandum beyond that date while the amendments are pushed through into law.


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