Russian Web Host Held Liable for Customer’s Pirated Content

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A Russian web host has been found guilty for violating intellectual property rights, according to a radio broadcast by the Voice of Russia on Monday.

The web host, called Internet Hosting, was found guilty in a Moscow city court for hosting pirated copies of “American Groom,” a reality program similar to the US TV show The Bachelor. The pirated media was hosted on a customer website.

While the case went to court last year, the hosting company appealed the decision but the final appeal was rejected last month. Internet Hosting could either face two years in prison or correctional labor.

According to the report, this is the first sentence of its kind in Russia. Prior to this case, all anti-piracy court rulings were limited to specific users or websites which host pirated media. The latter is a similar approach to the US approach, which protects hosting providers under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act safe harbors.

The Russian anti-piracy law was introduced last year and introduced the contept of information intermediaries – an entity responsible for violating the copyright law, which “provides the facilities to host content or information, required to procure this content through a telecommunication network; the entity, providing access to this content,” the report said. Opponents argued that the term information intermediaries was too broad, and could lead to search engines – or web hosts – being held responsible.

Currently a working group within the Communications and Press Ministry is seeking feedback from legislators and Internet companies to propose amendements to the copyright law by the end of the month.

Last week, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the “bloggers law” which requires popular bloggers to register with the government, a move designed to give the government tighter control over the content that appears online.

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