In November 2018, a memorandum* (“Memorandum”) on cooperation for the protection of exclusive rights over digital technologies has gone into force in Russia, signed by rights holders and administrators of internet services. The purpose of the Memorandum is to develop effective out-of-court measures to protect copyright and neighbouring rights on the internet.
Parties to the Memorandum
For rights holders, the Memorandum was signed* by Russian associations for the protection of rights of IP owners and licensees, large Russian media holdings and TV companies (“Rights Holders”), while for administrators of internet services, it was executed by Russian search engines and large Russian platforms that host video content (“Administrators”).
Other rights holders, such as non-profit organisations or television broadcasting organisations, are entitled to adhere to the Memorandum with the approval of a simple majority of existing Rights Holders. On the part of the Administrators, any search engines or internet resources with a search system can also join.
Obligations of the parties to the Memorandum
Administrators are required to openly post information about the need to respect intellectual property and warn against the illegal use of intellectual property rights. In addition, Administrators must update user agreements and rules for the use of relevant resources with prohibitions on the illegal use of intellectual property and the possibility of blocking access if users violate this prohibition.
Administrators must also publish an online claim form to report violations of rights to audiovisual works by rights holders that are not party to the Memorandum.
Rights Holders have created a register of web pages that illegally host audiovisual works, including live audiovisual materials, and will provide the registrar’s details. This registrar will act as a communication channel between Rights Holders and Administrators.
Procedure for blocking pirated content
Blocking, namely terminating the issuance of links to pirated content during a search, can be carried out on the basis of a formal application by the Rights Holders, their participants or controlled entities. Applications are submitted to the registrar who decides whether to include web pages in the register containing illegal content.
In contrast to the lengthy blocking procedures found in the current legislation, the Memorandum requires Administrators to:
- contact the register every five minutes on a daily basis, including non-working days;
- stop issuing links to pirated resources within six hours; and
- remove controversial content from video hosting sites and other services.
Settlement of disputes
All disputes arising in connection with the Memorandum will be resolved through negotiation with the participation of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technologies and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor). If a dispute is not resolved within 30 days from the date of the relevant notice’s receipt by Roskomnadzor, any party has the right to address the court over the issue and/or stop performing the duties specified in the Memorandum.
Duration of the Memorandum
The Memorandum is valid until 1 September 2019, but the term may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties. The parties have pledged to make every effort to consolidate the provisions of the Memorandum at the legislative level before 1 September 2019.
The desire of market participants to consolidate procedures to effectively and quickly combat online piracy through self-regulation is welcome. The new procedure will provide tools to clear away the most popular sites of illegal content, reduce the burden on the courts and provide rights holders with an effective mechanism for dealing with pirates and a way to communicate with internet platforms.
Rights holders who regularly experience having their audiovisual works illegally placed on the internet should consider joining the Memorandum or joining an association that is already a party to it.