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Russian Ministry of culture mulls over idea to make social networks responsible for user’s content

Social networks attract users with help of content. You can sign up to certain social network and enjoy with other users or community, similar to you, with content, sometimes original or very interesting. Why people use social networks? They can communicate with a phone or at personal meeting. They consume content, discover something new and spent their time with a meaning.

Social networks also are interested in users’ content. Without content you, as a social network, will stay without audience and, consequently, without advertisers. Content in most cases is protected by copyright. Right holders monitor social networks but what they can really do? Block entire social networks? Require social network to monitor users’ activity? It is impossible to achieve.

Social networks in Russia under certain conditions are protected by some kind of safe harbor, provided in Russian law. They can be qualified as informational intermediaries (not ISP like in USA or other jurisdictions). If they “just transmit or host” information, i.e. content like music, movies or images, they are not liable for copyright infringement, if such information has been posted without proper permission of relevant right holders, if they quickly react to right holder’s claim.

Since social networks in Russia are some kind of “Klondike”, where copyright infringements occurs very often, from most right holders’ point of view. Right holders don’t have opportunity to force social networks to monitor users’ activity. Therefore they proposed to make social networks responsible for content, placed of posted without right holders permission, even if such content has been uploaded by user.

Right holders believe the provisions of current Russian law should be revised in order to exclude safe harbor protection for platforms allowing users to publish or upload content, protected by copyright, without relevant permission of right holder. Russian internet companies don’t like such idea. There is already provided optimal wording in law. Why to change it?

It is not right “to change this wording in that direction or another” believes executive from Rambler company. Right holders must solve their problem in other way. They could raise media-competence of public and fight piracy at the stage when movie “travels” from studio to cinema – believes Rambler’s executive.

Right holders also proposed to prohibit any advertisement on web-sites blocked under court order and provide liability for violation of such prohibition. If blocked web-site makes money on subscription, then payment providers must be forbidden to work with such web-site.

There is also idea to fight piracy by way of blocking mirrors of pirate web-sites. In that case MinCult believes it would be much better if all stakeholders, including internet companies, owners of web-sites and representative of users, would participate in developing of draft bill.