Yandex gets ready to the battle with right holders

Right holders in Russia claim Yandex does not do enough to fight piracy, it could be said otherwise – right holders accuse Yandex of facilitating internet piracy in Russia. Certainly Yandex denies all accusation and claim it works strictly in accordance with current Russian law, including copyright law. Right holders don’t believe Yandex. They believe Yandex makes money on piracy.

Three channels have applied for restraining order against Yandex and asked the court to apply preliminary measures, namely restrict access to Yandex’s service – Yandex.Video. Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor stated it is intended to comply with court’s order and is ready to restrict access only to one of the Yandex’s services. But due to facilities of most internet service providers entire domain name Yandex.ru can be blocked in Russia.

This case of copyright infringement has precedential nature. No one has applied for such measures in relation to major internet company with success. Not because no one has good lawyers or resources enough to handle the case. Gazprom Media is state-funded company and controls significant share of entertainment market. There was already case, when the right holder applied for preliminary measures and the court agreed, but Roskomnadzor did not find any infringement.

This case is different. Yandex is not agreed with courts order and intends to appeal it. It believes Gazprom’s requirements (to delete all pirate links) are unreasonable and unjustifiable by Russian law. Yandex believes the provisions of Russian copyright law on restriction of access to web-sites with illegal content does not cover search engine. Yandex only searches videos; it does not publish it, except the cases when it does it under agreement and illegal copies must be blocked only on third-parties’ web-sites where they are published or upload.

But there is little detail. The “secret” is in Yandex’s video player. When the user searches for any video on Yandex and finds it, regardless of whether this video is published legally or illegally, the user can watch the video through the video player from web-site where video is published. The user watches video from third-party web-site on Yandex Video without visiting third-party web-site. This is the main point of preliminary measures in this case. Yandex believes the Gazprom requirements contradict to Russian copyright law.

Russian ministry of communication (MinCom) sided with Yandex. Deputy of minister stated that the Yandex’s arguments are “serious”. Meantime Yandex has deleted links to web-sites with illegal video content from its search. It was made in order to avoid restriction of access to entire domain name yandex.ru, but the search engine is intended to appeal the court decision and fight to the victory over right holders. Yandex believes the right holders’ requirements are impossible to implement – search engine is not able to define what service is legal and what service is illegal.