Russia Set to Toughen Up Anti-Piracy Laws

Pictured: Alexander Akopov, Catherine Mtsitouridze, Sergey Selyanov and Alexey Volin

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Russian lawmakers are set to toughen up anti-piracy laws by the end of the year. Websites that are repeat offenders when it comes to hosting illegally sourced films and TV shows will be shut down.

Sergey Semenov, legal counsel to the Russian Film and TV Producers’ Assn., told delegates at the St. Petersburg Intl. Media Forum Monday that the government believed that “those websites that habitually broke the law should be closed.” Existing anti-piracy legislation, which only obliges websites to remove illegal content, was like “shooting sparrows with a cannon,” he said. It was not “menacing enough,” and his org would work with legislators in the Duma to amend the law, which should come into force by the end of the year.

Semenov, speaking at a session on fighting piracy, said his association backed moves by the Hollywood studios to persuade intermediaries in the distribution of content online to shun websites that hosted pirated content. These intermediaries included those that processed payments, advertising agencies and their clients that placed ads next to illegal content, domain name registrars, internet access providers, and internet hosting providers, said Trevor Albery, VP of anti-piracy operations for Warner Bros. in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Vlad Ryashin, Star Media Group CEO, said that film and TV industry reps had been meeting with execs at social media sites, like VK, to persuade them to become more pro-active when it came to removing illegal content. He said that YouTube was already working in a collaborative way with the industry in this respect.

Olga Valigurskaya, CEO of anti-piracy company Web Kontrol, said one of the issues was that social media sites that hosted video posted by users did not carry out pre-filtering. She added that more attention needed to be paid to how search engines helped users find pirated content. Alexander Akopov, president of Amedia, which is the leading pay TV operator in Russia, said he considered the search engines to be “the main pirates in the world.”

Akopov said that discussions about fighting piracy must not be confused with issues surrounding freedom of speech on the internet, a view echoed by other speakers.

There was some soul searching by Russian panelists over whether there was a fundamental flaw in the Russian mind-set that lay behind piracy. Sergey Selyanov, a producer best known for “Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan,” said: “Why isn’t there a civil society in Russia?” He added that some of those that defended the free for all on the internet used child-like arguments. Akopov added that Russians should stop “pretending that we are a poor country.”

The session was moderated by Chris Marcich, MPAA president in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Аlexey Pimanov, general producer of Ostankino Broadcasting Film, alongside Catherine Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO and SPIMF’s general producer.

Other panelists included Alexey Volin, Russia’s deputy minister of communications and mass media, Michael D. Robinson, executive VP, content protection at the MPAA, Konstantin Zemchenkov, director of the Russian Anti-Piracy Organization, Paul Heth, CEO of Karo Film Group, and Kim Habraken, director and senior counsel, content protection (EMEA) at 20th Century Fox.

The Media Forum, which is organized by Roskino with the support of the government of St. Petersburg, runs Oct. 1-10.

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