New law proposes regulation for OTT-services operating in Russia

Deputies from Russian state duma have proposed amendments to Russian laws in order to set up regulation for and control over the audio-visual services operating in Russia. What exactly these amendments propose?

First of all they make clear what an audio-visual service is. The main focus was made on a person, who organises such service. Organiser of audio-visual service in telecommunication network, including Internet, is a person, who, with help of special software and computers, forms and/or organises dissemination of audio-visual material (movies, other audio-visual works, TV programs, TV broadcasting, video programs) in telecommunication network, including internet, for customers residing in Russia.

Persons, providing access to information about audio-visual material and/or providing access to links to resources containing audio-visual material, which are included in register of audio-visual services under proposed law, don’t fall under this definition.

Given definition means not only an organiser of audio-visual service but it also means audio-visual service itself. Under definition it is the same object of regulation. In other words, in accordance with definition, an organiser of audio-visual service is also audio-visual service – the subject (organiser) and object (audio-visual service) of regulation are mixed up.

 Audio-visual material is intended to be watched by customers, so called dissemination of content, in Russian Federation if material is proposed for payment or for watching of advertisement. In other words, if content is proposed to customers in Russia for nothing or for personal data, it is out of regulation by this law. Brilliant protection of national interests, marketplace and competition.

In order to control OTT-services, as Russian law-makers understand them, the draft law sets up register of audio-visual services. The entrance ticket to this register is 100000 internet users, residing in Russia, in a day during calendar month or 20000 internet users, residing in certain subject of Russian Federation, in a day during calendar month. The organiser of audio-visual service is to be informed of inclusion in such register.

When organiser of audio-visual service is aware of an honor to be included in register, it must provide all documents confirming its compliance with applicable Russian law within 2 months following notification.

Who can be an organiser of audio-visual service? It is easy to say who cannot be. Foreign country, international organisation, foreign citizen, stateless person, Russian citizen having foreign citizenship and overseas legal entities don’t have an honor to be an organiser of audio-visual service in Russia. Russian legal entity, if more than 20% of its shares are under control of overseas person, also does not have an honor to be an organiser of OTT-service in Russia. It is prohibited to abovementioned persons to control, directly or indirectly, an organiser of OTT-service.

But as always, the law has its own exceptions. Governmental commission can allow above mentioned persons to be organiser of or control an audio-visual service in Russia. If organiser of audio-visual service, being entrepreneurial company, has strategic importance for national security and is running business in accordance with certain Russian applicable law it is out of regulation prescribing who cannot be an organiser of audiovisual service.