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Tracks Flow case could lead to web-blocking in Russia

By | Published on Friday 14 February 2014

Tracks Flow

While Russian law has not been hugely favourable to music companies trying to enforce their intellectual property rights over the years, copyright rules in the country have been beefed up of late, and that has resulted in the operator of a stream aggregator called Tracks Flow facing a fine and possible web-blocking.

The Russian site, which pulls in streams from a plethora of sources but allows users to listen to and organise tracks through one web-based interface, was targeted with litigation by now Warner affiliate SBA Music Publishing. And, according to Torrentfreak, the Moscow Arbitration Court has sided with the publisher, ordering Tracks Flow and its owner Boris Golikov to pay over $44,000 in damages and ruling that the domain should be “terminated”.

The court is seemingly utilising relatively new Russian copyright law to make these orders. What isn’t clear is how Golikov’s dotcom domain will be “terminated”, give the dotcom registry sits outside the jurisdiction of the Russian courts, though the obvious way would be for judges to issue web-block injunctions against internet service providers in the country, similar to those issued by various other European courts, including in the UK.

Another interesting element of the case is that Tracks Flow doesn’t actually host any of the infringing content that flows through its player, and declares what sites tracks are being pulled from – SoundCloud and YouTube being common sources.

Golikov argued that this meant he wasn’t actually liable for any infringement, though – of course – simply linking to unlicensed music has been sufficient to make a plethora of file-sharing set-ups liable over the years. But some of the sources of content Tracks Flow taps are licensed, and there are other sites and apps out there that operate similar systems who could now be targeted. Though in the meantime, Tracks Flow intends to appeal.