Anti-internet piracy law

On August 1 "anti-piracy" amendments to Russia’s federal law protecting copyrighted material online came into effect.

Labzin Maxim

Labzin Maxim

The law creates no new IP rights, nor does it even introduce new safeguards to protect existing rights. It merely changes the procedure for judges issuing urgent temporary restraining orders to cease and desist movie copyright violations online. The law is actually about courts being able to remove movies from the Web pending the hearing of the matter in court.

It was impossible earlier to seek and obtain any preliminary injunctive relief before filing the action. Civil procedure, unlike arbitrazh, provided for no pre-hearing provisional relief. However, the amendments to the law will primarily address conflicts between legal entities, which are all within the jurisdiction of arbitrazh courts already applying preliminary injunctive reliefs.

"In my view, introducing preliminary injunctive relief in civil procedure would have been quite enough, together with detailing the procedure for taking these measures in both court systems and instructing judges to take these measures whenever such and such conditions are met, thus precluding excessive judicial subjectivism and arbitrariness of the people on the bench who will decide these matters," Labzin said.

The very idea of this law is very welcome. But the legislative disregard for the established rules of courts' jurisdiction is puzzling: instead of detailing the procedure and keep courts' established jurisdiction over matters, the law chooses for some reason just one forum, the Moscow City Court, to take preliminary injunctive measures. Moreover, if it issues such temporary restraining orders, it will then have to hear the case on merits.

This means that if copyright holders could earlier apply for the removal of pirated copyrighted material at the location of the future defendants or Internet host providers, now they must apply to the Moscow City Court however far they are from Moscow, and then, if the restraint order is granted, must appear before that court at the hearing. It is hard to expect a Vladivostok-based copyright will ever want to do so.

As concerns copyright protection, the law draws no objections from practicing lawyers: it sets out a definite list of adducible evidence, establishes deadlines and sets rules of interaction with the court. But this could all have been done within the existing rules of courts' jurisdiction, without referring these matters to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Moscow City Court.

"Summing it up, I will note that this law will have some positive effect, but unfortunately, it will not resolve the problem of piracy on the whole. The potential of the Internet are virtually boundless today," Maxim Labzin said.

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