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Russian ministers consider search engines’ role in beefing up web-blocking

By | Published on Tuesday 24 May 2016

Web Block

In amongst all the bluster around bloody YouTube, the music industry’s continued frustration with the Google search engine routinely linking through to piracy sites that have been deemed copyright infringers in the courts doesn’t tend to get so much attention, despite the case for legislative intervention surely being much more clear cut on that one.

Though legislative intervention may be incoming, in Russia of all places, where the government is considering ways to beef up web-blocking measures it introduced a few years back. As in other countries, the problem with web-blocking – whereby internet service providers are ordered to block access to websites deemed to be rampant copyright infringers by the courts – is that as soon as a site’s URL is blocked, proxies appear online that allow users to circumvent the blockades, and these are usually easily found on search engines.

Russian ministers are considering various ways to overcome this issue, and that includes putting new obligations on search engines to play ball where courts have ordered ISPs to act against piracy sites. Draft legislation now includes proposals that would allow rights owners to seek injunctions forcing search engines to stop listing and linking to proxies and web pages that exist to help people circumvent anti-piracy web-blocks.

Of course, none of these proposed measures are a panacea; those who really want to will always find their way around any web-blocks, or will just adopt newer forms of piracy that current web-block practices aren’t set up to deal with. Though, forcing search engines to comply as best they can with the ISP’s web-block orders would definitely increase the efficiency of web-blocking to a point.

All of which means it will be interesting to see what new web-blocking measures actually make it into Russian copyright law, whether it has any impact, and whether it is subsequently adopted elsewhere.