The Moscow City Court will have the ability to block websites as an “interim” injunction measure in case of alleged copyright infringements without the applicant first having to contact the web hosting provider.
This new legal possibility will potentially affect copyright owners as well as anyone displaying information containing copyrighted works of third parties on the Internet (e.g. website owners, web hosting providers).
On 1 August 2013, the so-called “Anti-piracy Law” (the “Law”) will come into force in Russia.
Main provisions of the Law
The Law only applies to copyrighted films, and not to music or other copyrighted works. However, it has been reported that the Law could be amended as soon as this Autumn to cover music and other copyrighted works.
Those applying to court to obtain a web blocking injunction will have to show that they hold the relevant copyright. However, the Law does not expressly set out what documents must be submitted to that end.
If an interim injunction is granted, the applicant will have up to 15 days to submit a statement of claims against the alleged infringers. Failing that, the injunction will be suspended, and any person/organisation who incurred losses as a result of the interim injunction will be entitled to claim damages.
As a general rule, when an interim injunction is granted, it remains valid until the judgment upon the main claim comes into effect.
Technically, once an injunction has been granted, blocking a website will require the involvement of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (“Roskomnadzor”). Roskomnadzor will request the hosting provider to remove the alleged infringing content. If the content is not removed within a three-day period, Roskomnadzor will block the relevant website.
The Law is favourable to applicants seeking a web blocking injunction and has, therefore, been heavily criticised by representatives of the Russian Internet industry, and specifically well-known Internet providers.
Reasons for this include, in particular, the fact that:
- the applicant is not supposed to describe the alleged infringement in detail when applying for the interim injunction;
- the Law makes it possible to block an entire IP address rather than just the URLs containing the alleged infringing information;
- the only court empowered to impose this type of interim injunction in Russia will be the Moscow City Court; and
- the time frame for notifications is very short, as it does not take into account public holidays or weekends.
In view of this new Law, we would recommend website owners, operators and hosting providers take potential requests coming from copyright owners and their representatives seriously to ensure timely removal of the alleged infringing content in order to avoid the entire site being blocked.
As for copyright owners, the new powers and protections under the Law should certainly be considered as an efficient tool of copyright enforcement in Russia.