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Russian web giant Yandex’s video site could be blocked on copyright grounds

By | Published on Thursday 30 August 2018


As the music industry prepares to push for new laws in Europe increasing the liabilities of user-upload platforms like Google’s YouTube, Russian web giant Yandex is facing the prospect of having its video site blocked by the country’s internet service providers if it doesn’t remove pirated content from said site.

According to Torrentfreakciting Russian news agency Interfax – Yandex has come under fire in recent weeks from key broadcasters in the country, which want the web firm to remove links to pirated content from its search engine and actual pirated content from its video site. Both are things Western copyright owners would also like Google to do.

It can still be hard to protect intellectual property rights in Russia today, but at the same time the country has ramped up some of its copyright laws in recent years. So much so, Yandex’s obligations – if enforced – are much higher than those of Google in Europe, even if the new EU copyright directive goes through in its current form.

In a growing row over copyright infringing content on the Yandex platform, various Russian broadcasters, including Gazprom-Media and the National Media Group, last week removed their channels from the web firm’s online TV service. Gazprom-Media also went legal and secured a court order in Moscow demanding that Yandex stop linking to pirated copies of the broadcaster’s content on its search engine.

In the wake of that ruling, the country’s sometimes controversial internet watchdog Rozcomnadzor – which has web-blocking powers – issued its own order. It demanded that all and any content owed by Gazprom-Media and posted without licence to the web company’s video platform,, also be removed.

In a statement issued to Interfax, the Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor Vadim Subbotin subsequently said that ISPs in the country will be ordered to block access to if the web giant does not comply with the recent orders.

Subbotin seemingly told the news agency: “If Yandex does not take measures then, according to the law, the Yandex.Video service must be blocked”. Though he did then add: “Let’s wait for the execution of the decision, [then] we will hold consultations with them”.

Yandex is yet to respond to any of this, but a web-block could seemingly be instigated against its video site as soon as tonight if it doesn’t comply with the court and regulator’s orders. It will be interesting to see if that happens though, given Yandex’s dominance in the Russian market.