As Russia Expands Its 'Think Of The Children' Laws To Copyright, Agency In Charge Investigated For Infringement
from the the-French-have-a-word-for-it dept
Last week we wrote about how the Russian equivalent of SOPA had been amended in order to ban swearing online. Although that was worth noting for its entertainment value, probably more important is the fact that the same law — originally brought in to take down sites about drugs, suicide and child pornography — has also been widened to include copyright infringement, as TechWeekEurope reports:
the law has been extended to include intellectual property, such as films or TV shows (but interestingly, not music). Under the new rules, copyright holders can contact the website and demand for illegal content to be removed, or request a court order and complain to Roskomnadzor. The website is then required to block the access to files within 3 days, and keep them inaccessible until the court decides on the case.
If the website owners refuse to comply with the order, Roskomnadzor will order ISPs to block the whole site.
This is a textbook example of how to bring in broad censorship in easy stages. First, pass new Web blocking laws “for the children”, which no politician would dare object to; then, once the machinery for blocking certain sites is in place, simply broaden it to other, more contentious areas — such as alleged copyright infringement. As the same story explains, over 1700 Russian Web sites went dark last week in protest at the new law, and 88,000 people signed a petition calling for the law to be repealed (original in Russian), just short of the 100,000 needed for the petition to be considered by the Russian parliament, so nothing much will happen on this front now.
Meanwhile, a film distribution company lost no time using the law to file against Vkontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook. Although the case was thrown out because it lacked certain corroborating documents, it seems likely that it will be submitted again. Others will doubtless follow suit. Amusingly, though, the body responsible for implementing Russia’s extended SOPA law, Roscomnadzor, looks like it might have fallen foul of the new rules itself, as TorrentFreak explains:
The problems date back to July 9, 2013 when a technology audit at Roscomnadzor offices led officers from the Economic Crime unit and the Interior Ministry to seize five computers suspected of containing unlicensed software.
According to preliminary information from local law enforcement agencies, two of the seized computers contained unlicensed copies of Photoshop but apparently the problems don’t stop there as unlicensed software from Microsoft, Corel and Autodesk was also found.
This is reminiscent of the French HADOPI body also being found to have infringed copyright multiple times. Both cases emphasize just how widespread such unauthorized use is around the world, and why harsh punishments like Web blocks are completely disproportionate when even copyright enforcement bodies find it hard to comply with the law.