Russia: New law on blocking copies of pirate websites without launching a lawsuit
Starting on 1 October 2017, copyright holders will be able to block mirrors of permanently blocked websites without lengthy court proceedings.
Online piracy is a recurring problem for owners of copyrighted media. Currently, if the piracy occurs in Russia, the copyright owner may seek a preliminary injunction blocking the infringing website and then file a lawsuit. If a website has been found to infringe in two or more lawsuits, it can be permanently blocked. However, this may be futile if copies (so-called “mirrors”) of the blocked site start appearing online shortly after the injunction takes effect. The copyright owner is then faced with a “whac-a-mole” situation: whenever a mirror site is blocked, new copies appear.
To address this problem, a new law will enable a copyright owner that has successfully petitioned a court to permanently block an infringing site to block mirrors of the site as well - without having to initiate new court proceedings each time. Under the new law, a rights holder that becomes aware of a mirror of a previously blocked site need only notify Minkomsvyaz (the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media) about the existence of the mirror. The content of the mirror must be “confusingly similar” to the content of the blocked site that infringes copyright, or contain information (links or descriptions such as VPN or proxy server instructions) designed to enable access to such infringing content.
Remedies are swift: Minkomsvyaz will review the notice within 24 hours; if it agrees that the mirror site meets the criteria for being blocked, it will notify the owner of the mirror site as well as Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media). After receiving that notice, within another 24 hours, Roskomnadzor must (i) forward the notice to the company hosting the mirror site, (ii) order the telecommunications provider servicing the host to block access to the mirror site, and (iii) order search engine operators within Russia to delete the domain name of the mirror site from search results. Within 24 hours after they receive their notices from Roskomnadzor, the telecommunications provider and search engine operators must comply with them. Thus, blocking mirror websites and deleting the information about them from search results will take a maximum of three days.