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Russia considering law to force search engines to delist piracy sites

By | Published on Monday 27 February 2017

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The Russian government has proposed a new copyright law that could force search engines to entirely delist piracy websites.

The new rules, proposed by the country’s Ministry Of Communications, would force global firms like Google and the market leading search engine in Russia, Yandex, to remove sites from their search databases that have been subject to a web-block injunction in the Russian courts. Piracy sites that have failed to respond to takedown requests by rights owners may also qualify for de-listing, even without a web-block injunction.

As much previously reported, the music and movie industries have long argued that the search engines should do more to downgrade and delete links to copyright infringing websites and content on their platforms.

Most search engines allow rights owners to request that specific URLs be removed from their databases, but record companies and movie studios argue that process is inefficient, because new URLs are constantly popping up often linking to the same unlicensed content.

Although Google in particular has introduced some anti-piracy initiatives, the web firms have generally resisted efforts to make them more proactively police piracy on the internet. Though Google and Microsoft’s Bing last week signed a voluntary code of conduct in the UK to do more work in this domain, partly to halt efforts to introduce more obligations under law via the in development Digital Economy Bill.

It’s still not entirely clear what new anti-piracy activity will be introduced by Google and Bing in the UK as a result of that code. It may well be that search engines in Russia will have to go considerably further if the new proposed rules there become law. Traditionally a country seen as being pretty slack in protecting intellectual property rights, in more recent years Russia has been tightening up its copyright regime.