On May 1, 2015, important amendments to Russian anti-piracy law1 came into effect. These amendments broaden the scope of the law to protect all copyrighted content (with the exception of photographs), and introduce simplified steps to take down websites containing pirated content.

Background on Russia’s anti-piracy law

Following pressure from Russian and international media companies, the Russian government introduced its anti-piracy law on August 1, 2013.

The law initially provided copyright protection solely to movies uploaded on data and telecom networks — including the Internet — by blocking websites offering access to pirated video content.

On November 24, 2014, further amendments to the anti-piracy law were introduced to provide stronger copyright protection. These amendments cover all copyrighted content, aside from photographs, and prescribe the preliminary injunction procedures against infringing websites in more detail.

Faster, clearer injunction procedures now available

  • Starting on May 1, 2015, copyright and neighbouring rights-holders can file for a preliminary injunction with Moscow City Court against the website owner under the anti-piracy law. All court-issued injunctions are available on the Moscow City Court website.
  • If an injunction is granted, the rights-holder may file an application with Roskomnadzor,2 the federal ministry in charge, to restrict access to informational resources that distribute infringing content.
  • Within three working days of Roskomnazor‘s receipt of the application, the ministry will send a notification in Russian and English to the telecom operator providing hosting services to the infringing website.
  • Within one business day, the hosting service provider must inform the website owner of their obligation to remove or restrict access to pirated content.
  • Within one business day from the date of receipt of the notification, the website owner must remove the infringing materials.
  • In case of non-compliance, the website will be blocked by the hosting service provider.

The law also provides sanctions for repeated violations by allowing for the website owner to be blocked permanently. Infringement will be considered to be “repeated” if there is an effective prior decision of Moscow City Court against the same website owner at the request of the same rights-holder.

Out-of-court measures now available to copyright holders

The new law also enables rights-holders to send take-down notices directly to the website owner — without having to go to court. Within 24 hours of receiving the notice, the website owner must either:

  • Remove infringing content
  • Request additional information
  • Provide proof that the website owner is authorized to use the  allegedly infringing content

As of May 1, website owners must list their contact information on their website. This information includes their name, postal address and email address.

Digital fingerprinting: A potential tool to track violations

On March 20, 2015, the Russian Ministry of Communications and Media announced plans to create a registry of intellectual property rights-holders. On a voluntary basis, rights holders will be able to add their works to the registry, with the goal of creating an online piracy-monitoring system through of the use of digital fingerprinting.  

Digital fingerprinting is a relatively new technology based on content-recognition software that identifies and compares digital video data. For example, YouTube successfully implemented its Content ID digital fingerprinting system in 2007. The system scans all videos uploaded on YouTube and compares the videos with a database of files submitted to them by content owners.

The introduction of digital fingerprinting is expected to greatly enhance the Russian copyright enforcement system, as Russian law does not provide obligatory copyright registration — which can make the process of proving authorship more challenging.

However, it is still unclear how digital fingerprinting will determine the status of tracked material. Whether the software will be able to identify the material as within fair use remains to be seen.