Rightsholders everywhere are struggling to the contain the influx, often having to resort to filing millions of takedown notices with Internet companies, the bulk of which target the world’s major search engines.
While this doesn’t take down the actual content itself, there is a theory that citizens often turn to search engines to find their fix. These sites, in turn, direct users to sites hosting infringing content. To combat this facilitation, copyright holders want search companies to remove these results from their indexes.
Takedowns like this are common in the West, with Google removing billions of links upon request. In Russia, however, search engine Yandex found itself in hot water recently after refusing to remove links on the basis that the law does not require it to do so. This prompted the authorities to suggest that a compromise agreement needs to be made, backed up by possible changes in the law.
It now appears that this event, which could’ve led to Yandex being blocked by ISPs, has prompted both Internet companies and copyright holders to consider a voluntary agreement. Discussions currently underway suggest a unique and potentially ground-breaking plan.
The initial meeting between telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor, Internet companies Yandex, Google, and Mail.ru, plus representatives of the Association of Producers of Cinema and Television (APKiT), the National Media Group, and Gazprom Media Holdings, took place September 19.
According to news outlet RBC, the topic of discussion was the creation of a special database holding the details of known infringing copies of content including movies, games, software and other pirated content.
The proposals envision that once details of content are placed in the database, search engines and video hosting sites that sign up to a memorandum of understanding with rightsholders will automatically query the database every five minutes for updates.
Once the details are fed back, search companies will remove links to pirate resources from their search results within six hours, without any need for a court process. This will run alongside the current database currently maintained by Roscomnadzor and utilized by ISPs, which contains links to sites that are blocked due to having multiple complaints filed against them at the Moscow City Court.
If adopted, this new extrajudicial process will go some way to clearing up the problems caused by the current legal gray area, which led to Yandex removing links to content from its video portal to avoid a potential ISP blockade, even though the company believes that the law does not require it to do so.
It’s suggested that the infringing resource database, should it go ahead, could be maintained by the Internet Video Association (IVA), which represents intellectual property rights holders. Alternatively, RBC notes, an alternative coalition of entertainment companies including legal streaming platforms could be put in charge of the project.
Talks appear to be fairly advanced, with agreements on the framework for the database potentially being reached by the middle of this week. If that’s the case, a lawsuit recently filed by Gazprom Media against Yandex could be settled amicably. It’s understood that Yandex wants all major Internet players to become involved, including social networks.
With the carrot comes the possibility of the stick, of course. Gazprom Media indicates that if a voluntary agreement cannot be reached, it will seek amendments to copyright law that will achieve the same end results.