Yandex has been struck by right holders again, but from other side

Russian association on protection of copyright in internet (AZAPI) asked Russian internet watchdog – Roskomnadzor – to penalise Russian search engine Yandex because the last still indexes URLs to web-sites, blocked in 2016 – librusec and Rutracker. This is first time when the representatives of right holders apply the new law entered into force in September. The law provides fine up to 700 thousands Roubles if the subject of regulation fails to comply with law.

The right holders also intend to require restriction of access to Yandex itself if it fails to de-index URLs of Librusec and Rutracker. But this case is not so simple as it seems. AZAPI has filed a claim to Roskomnadzor this October. AZAPI believes Yandex infringes Russian anti-piracy law because by searching the mirrors of blocked web-sites the search engine also finds URLs to original web-sites. The claim is accompanied by screenshots showing the what Yandex has found at the request of internet user and list of search results with URLs of Librusec and Rutracker.

AZAPI is of concern that Roskomnadzor would side with Yandex. The URLs of blocked resources are proposed by so called recommended algorithm implemented by Yandex. It means in order to “see” the URLs the user has to make manipulation with searching. The new Yandex’s recommendation system has been implemented this summer and thanks to this system the user can find URLs to pirate web-sites or web-sites with illegal content blocked in Russian territory under Russian law.

When user finds URLs of mirror web-sites and links them the algorithm understands that the user did not find what he want and proposes the user URL of original web-site. The AZAPI believes the Roskomandzor can apply the “formal approach” at the consideration the claim and determine that Yandex does not index URLs of blocked web-sites or such URLs have appeared in search result occasionally. But if Roskomnadzor is agree with AZAPI and determines there is violation of Russian law the Yandex is to be blocked in Russia if it fails to de-index URLs in question.

Roskomnadzor considered AZAPI’s claim and did not find any URLs in Yandex’s search results, in other words there is no violation of Russian law, but – as mentioned RKN – “the situation can change” and authority will continue to monitor. But if there is no violation of law why Roskomandzor has sent to search engines requirement to de-index permanently blocked web-resources in Russia, including Rutracker? Only Mail.ru has totally de-indexed Rutracker, the rest of search engines – Yandex, Sputnik, Bind and Google – still index it.