Yandex Has Less Than 48 Hours to Tackle Piracy or Get Blocked

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Russian search giant Yandex is facing a copyright crisis. Late last week the Moscow City Court handed down a ruling that required Yandex to remove links to pirated content owned by Gazprom-Media. On Monday, that instruction was reiterated by telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor. If Yandex does not take action by Thursday, its video platform will be blocked by the country's ISPs.

Despite having some of the toughest laws on the planet for tackling the appearance of pirate content, the copyright infringement wars in Russia appear to be intensifying.

Last week, to protest the existence of ‘pirate’ content in search results, major broadcasters Gazprom-Media, National Media Group (NMG), and others removed their TV channels from Yandex’s ‘TV Online’ service. The media companies said that they would only allow their content to appear again if Yandex removes pirated content completely.

With no clear sign of removals underway, it was later revealed that Gazprom-Media had filed a copyright infringement complaint with the Moscow City Court, the entity responsible for handling ISP blocking requests.

According to the media giant, the Court subsequently handed down a decision which now compels Yandex to remove links to pirated TV shows belonging to Gazprom-Media.

In a follow-up, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, which is responsible for ordering ISPs to block sites, contacted Yandex with an instruction to remove infringing content from its service.

While mostly unknown to Western Internet users, the index is heavily populated with pirated content, especially TV shows and movies. As the image below shows, its ‘featured’ content section (which appears without any prompting) is populated by pirate content of recent movies.

According to Interfax, Yandex was informed that under the relevant anti-piracy legislation, it needs to remove content owned by Gazprom-Media channels including TNT, TV-3, 2×2, and Super, as instructed by the Moscow City Court. Yandex did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to Interfax Tuesday, Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor Vadim Subbotin warned that (which is also available under will be blocked Thursday night (August 30) if the pirate links aren’t removed.

“If Yandex does not take measures, then according to the law, the Yandex.Video service must be blocked. There’s nowhere to go,” Subbotin said. “Let’s wait for the execution of the decision, we will hold consultations with them.”

Sites accused of copyright infringement are given three days to respond to a notice ordering them to take action. Time runs out for Yandex tomorrow night.

“On Thursday evening, these three days will expire,” Subbotin added.

It isn’t clear why Yandex didn’t immediately respond to the orders of the Moscow City Court but despite its standing as a prominent service, it appears it won’t be allowed any extra room for maneuver.


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