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Russian government proposing super speedy web-blocks

By | Published on Thursday 9 November 2017

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The Russian government is considering introducing what could be dubbed web-blocking at speed. Or maybe web-blocking on speed. Under new proposals the country’s sometimes controversial internet watchdog Rozcomnadzor would have the power to block websites distributing copyright infringing material within 24 hours of being alerted to the infringing content’s presence. No court order would be required.

Russia has ramped up its intellectual property laws considerably in recent years and while, from the perspective of Western copyright owners, there are still far too many loopholes, at the same time some of the country’s anti-piracy measures go far beyond those found in North America and Europe. And that includes web-blocking, with Rozcomnadzor already able to respond to requests that copyright infringing websites be blocked much quicker than most of the courts and agencies that have that power in other countries.

According to Torrentfreak, under the current system Rozcomnadzor gives the owners of accused websites three days to remove copyright infringing content before any further action is taken. But, according to Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, Russia’s Ministry Of Culture is now proposing a new system where the regulator could block websites within 24 hours of an infringement claim being made.

This new system would only seemingly benefit the movie industry though, and only films released by Russian companies at that. Ministers in favour of the 24 hour blocking process say that new movie releases popping up online is hitting cinema attendances which, in turn, is depriving the country’s film industry of key income.

As much previously reported, web-blocking has become a preferred anti-piracy tactic for the music and movie industries in countries where such blockades are available.

Usually a court must ultimately issue an injunction ordering the web-blocks, though there have been discussions elsewhere of having a government agency with the power to order internet service providers to block their users from accessing piracy sites.

Digital rights campaigners argue that without judicial oversight web-blocking could be open to abuse, with legitimate websites the occasionally inadvertently publish infringing material caught in the cross-fire. It remains to be seen if Rozcomnadzor gets the new super powers it seeks to speed up its web-blocking activities.

For more on web-blocking and other piracy matters, check out this new CMU Insights blog post or get yourself along to the upcoming CMU Insights masterclass on copyright enforcement on 20 Nov.