Yandex, Russia’s search engine, was hours from being completely shutdown by order of the Moscow Court. They had no choice but to block alleged piracy sites. The suit was filed by Gazprom Media, controlled by Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian state, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin.
Google and Facebook would almost certainly be vulnerable if the decision is upheld. So could any site that disregards Russian law, which certainly would find much of the Western press criminally liable for “libelous” reporting about Russia. In a case heard in a Russian court, I doubt The New York Times would have much hope, especially after the American President’s attacks on the press.
Ironically, the best reason for Russia to shut down Google is to protect Yandex and Vkontakte. Economists speak of “infant industries.” Tencent, Alibaba, and perhaps Baidu have been able to compete with Google and Facebook. None of the European are within half a trillion of the scale of the U.S. giants. Only those protected – the Chinese – have cracked the top ten.
Even Vladimir Putin’s massive popularity would suffer if he blocked Google and Facebook. He has to lay the groundwork for legitimacy.
Yandex was easy to find and bring to court, making them a much easier target than the pirate sites themselves. Several similar suits were defeated, whose plaintiffs did not have the clout of Yandex. Yandex is hopeful of an appeal, which I’m sure will be decided on political grounds.
Freedom of Speech advocates long ago learned that the battles are often over the most difficult defendants.
Thanks to TorrentFreak, who brought the newsand this translation to the English-speaking world.
Today, August 30, 2018, the deadline for the execution of instructions, which Roscomnadzor sent to Yandex on the basis of the Moscow City Court’s rulings, expires. In the instructions we are required to remove from yandex.ru “illegally posted information” – TV shows, the rights to which belong to the TV channels of the group “Gazprom-Media”.
We continue to believe that the requirements are not justified and do not correspond to current legislation and practice of its application. We will challenge them in court.
In the absence of measures on our part, there is a risk that Roscomnadzor will apply a block to Yandex.Video. Blocking Yandex.Video would lead to inaccessibility of all yandex.ru, since this service is located at https://yandex.ru/video/, and most providers can block traffic only by domain name – in the case of Yandex. Video is yandex.ru.
In order to minimize the risk of blocking, because of which Yandex users would suffer, we have decided to remove from search all links to pages with contentious works.
In fact, the requirements presented to us are impracticable. Yandex does not post content on the network and, therefore, can not delete it. In addition, Yandex does not have the ability to determine the existence of rights to content from a particular site.
Accordingly, Yandex can not separate controversial content from legal content. Therefore, among the deleted links, there may be links to resources where the content is placed by the rightholder. As a result, users will have lost the opportunity to find legal content on Yandex, and the resources of Gazprom-Media, it is possible, have lost some of their traffic.
Moreover, the claims made do not solve the problem of piracy. Illegal content can still be easily found with the help of other search engines, social networks and media hosting. Pirate sites that host illegal content are still available.
A good solution to the piracy problem must satisfy two principles: transparency and balance. We ourselves are copyright holders and we will work with other rights holders, regulators and other industry players to create a system in which both these principles will be observed