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New Russian copyright law raises freedom of expression concerns

28 August, 2013
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This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Russland: Neues Copyright-Gesetz lässt Bedenken bezüglich Redefreihe...


New legislation on online copyright, amending several legislative acts of the Russian Federation on the protection of intellectual property rights in information and telecommunication networks, came into force on 1 August 2013.

For the time being, the law applies to “exclusive film rights, including movies and TV shows, in information and telecommunications networks, including the Internet” but it is expected to extend, in time, to other types of online content.

Amongst other things, the law rules on the liability of internet service providers, introducing the statutory definition of “information intermediary”.

During the adoption of the new law, the Russian Association of Electronic Communications issued a position with a proposal for amendment of the draft law where it expressed concerns related to additional financial and administrative burdens that the new provisions would impose on internet service providers, to a possible imbalance of legal interests of right holders and content distributors, the potential risk of abuse of pre-trial measures and the disruption of the market for digital content due to blocking of IP addresses.

Yandex, the company operating Russia’s leading internet search engine, considered that the proposed access limitation was detrimental for internet users and website owners, but for the right holders as well.

“The chosen method of regulation is aimed to fight not against pirates, but the internet as such, which is almost the same as blocking a highway, on which one accident happened,” said the statement.

Article 19 made an analysis of the respective law, examining its compliance with international standards on freedom of expression. In its analysis, the organisation expresses serious concerns regarding the way in which the procedures to provide safeguards for freedom of expression will be applied, considering that the implementation of the court orders falls under the jurisdiction of a government body rather than the courts or independent adjudicatory bodies.

“In order for an interim blocking order to be made, the courts are only required to take into account the evidence submitted by copyright holders. There is no corresponding requirement to consider the impact that blocking orders may have on freedom of expression.”

Furthermore, Article 19 believes that the new intermediary liability provisions fail to establish clear rules in this area, by adopting notice-and-takedown rules that are unclear, unnecessary and inadequate from the standpoint of the international standards on freedom of expression.

“The Law fails to specify the precise measures that may be ordered by the courts. For instance, there is nothing in the law to prevent a court from ordering a wholesale (and therefore disproportionate) ban on access to domain names contrary to international standards on freedom of expression.”

Russia: Federal law on amendments of several acts on the protection of intellectual property rights in information and telecommunication networks – executive summary (14.08.2013)
http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37202/en/russia:-feder...

Russia: Federal law on amendments of several acts on the protection of intellectual property rights in information and telecommunication networks – Legal analysis (14.08.2013)
http://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/37202/Russia%E2%80%99...

Russia Adopts Measures Against Online Video Piracy (24.07.2013)
http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/07/24/russia-adopts-measures-against-onli...

 

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