Gazprom-Media and others claim that Yandex isn’t doing enough to keep ‘pirate’ content out of its search results. After reaching a brick wall with the search company, the broadcasters filed a copyright infringement complaint with the Moscow City Court, the entity responsible for handling ISP blocking requests.
Late last week, the Court handed down a decision compelling Yandex to remove links to pirated TV shows belonging to Gazprom-Media outlets including TNT, TV-3, 2×2, and Super. The Court gave Yandex until the end of today to remove the content or find itself blocked throughout Russia. It’s now clear that Yandex will not comply.
According to a statement from the company, Yandex believes that the law is being misinterpreted. While under current legislation pirate content must be removed from sites hosting it, the removal of links to such content on search engines falls outside its scope.
“In accordance with the Federal Law On Information, Information Technologies, and Information Protection, the mechanics are as follows: pirated content should be blocked by site owners and on the so-called mirrors of these sites,” Yandex says.
“We consider the claims against us to be unreasonable and not in accordance with the law and we will appeal the decision of the Moscow City Court.”
A Yandex spokesperson told Interfax that the company works in “full compliance” with the law and is open to finding a cooperative solution.
“We will work with market participants to find a solution within the existing legal framework,” Yandex said.
In the midst of this serious situation, Yandex insists that it stands for an “honest Internet” in which legal content is made available and rightsholders earn their rightful share from it. Now, however, the action by the TV companies and the Court has undermined that.
“In response to the TV channels’ complaint, the Moscow City Court has passed rulings that are fundamentally contrary to its own previous practice on this issue. Worse still, they do not solve the problem of unauthorized content, since resources with such content will be available in other search systems, social networks and so on,” Yandex says.
But despite Yandex filing an appeal against the Court’s decision, there appears to be no escape from it being wiped from the Russian Internet in a matter of hours. Telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor says that it is obliged to act on the instructions of the Court and will instruct ISPs around the country to disabled access to Yandex.
“Roskomnadzor is required to comply with the court’s decision, which introduced preliminary provisional [blocking] measures against Yandex’s resource, regardless of the company’s appeal against this decision,” a spokesperson said.
But while executing a potentially devastating block on the one hand, Roscomnadzor is also offering to help mediate a peaceful solution to this growing dispute.
“We are ready to assist in finding points of interaction between companies,” Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor Vadim Subbotin told Interfax.
“I hope that in the pre-trial procedure, Yandex will take steps to resolve this conflict before the blockade, I very much hope that this will be done in cooperation with the rights holders,” he said.
Absent some last-minute miracle, it seems Yandex is doomed to preliminary blocking measures sometime today. While these usually last for an initial 15 days, the big question is how they will be carried out.
It’s unclear if a precise element of the service can or will be targeted (i.e Yandex.ru/video/ and/or Yandex.video) or whether Roscomnadzor will go down the Telegram route and block everything.
Ominously, Rosomnadzor is already warning that it doesn’t know what effect the blocks will have on Yandex’s other services.