After several months of negotiations moderated by the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Russian rights holders and major Internet companies signed an anti-piracy memorandum on November 1, 2018 in the capital of Moscow. The memorandum came into force on November 23, 2018 and will be effective until its expiration date, September 1, 2019. The parties may agree to extend the term of the memorandum unless a relevant law has been adopted in the meantime.
The memorandum establishes an out of court procedure allowing rights holders to request removal of URLs pointing to infringing audio-visual content (including live broadcasts) from Internet search results. Current Russian laws provide mechanisms for rights holders to temporarily or permanently block a webpage with infringing content, however there was no mechanism that could prevent a URL from appearing in search results. The development of the memorandum was instigated when Gazprom-Media, a large Russian media holding, sued Yandex, the provider of the most popular Russian search engine, for including URLs pointing to infringing content in its search results.
The document was signed by three major Russian Internet services administrators:
- Mail.Ru (the third most popular search engine in Russia after Yandex and Google and the administrator of Russia’s top three social networks: VK, Odnoklassniki and MyWorld); and
- Rambler (a popular media portal with 49 million visitors a month). Google Inc. was invited to join the memorandum, but the company has not provided an official response yet. URLs that point to infringing content have been subject to removal from Google search results since 1998, according to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The rights holders that signed the document are several major television channels and media holdings: Gazprom-Media, National Media Group, Channel One Russia, All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), CTC Media, KinoPoisk, Internet Video Association and Television and Film Producers Associations.
The rights holders agreed to create a register of URLs pointing to infringing audio-visual content, appoint a registrar responsible for its maintenance and then file applications for URL removal to the registrar. Upon checking the applicant’s documents and comparing the audio-visual content at the reported URL with the lawfully published content, the registrar will decide whether to include the reported URL into the register. Internet services administrators must have their search engines automatically refer to the register and remove all included URLs from their search results within six hours.
During the transitional period (from November 23, 2018 until May 23, 2019) Internet services administrators must refer to the register every 60 minutes. During this period, the procedure is only available to exclusive rights holders – the owners of the audio-visual content or their exclusive licensees.
After the end of the transitional period (from May 24, 2019 until September 1, 2019), Internet services administrators will have to refer to the register every five minutes. During this term, depending on whether the parties to the memorandum reach an agreement and negotiate its terms, the procedure might become available to non-exclusive licensees as well.
The rights holders that did not sign the memorandum will also be able to request URL removal by submitting a special form. If the request is justified, the URL should be deleted within 24 hours.