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Russia Not Holding Downloaders Liable of Piracy

Vladimir Grigoryev, head of Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (FAPMC), recently said the government has no plans to follow the United States' lead in holding file-sharers liable for piracy. Instead, Russia plans to go after the websites responsible for providing the copyrighted content.

News of Russia's stance against piracy arrives after the launch of the Copyright Alert System (CAS) here in the States back in February. Instead of dragging alleged pirates to court and severing their internet connection, local ISPs have instead agreed to educate these downloaders using a "six strikes" method. For now this system has seemingly halted a legal assault carried out by the RIAA, MPAA and other content owners who were already facing a rising tide of brick walls in the American court system.

Speaking at the launch of the "Read Legally" campaign, a nationwide initiative to encourage citizens to obtain eBooks from official sources, Grigoryev seemingly referred to the pre-CAS days when alleged downloaders were threatened with possible fines and prison time if they didn't settle out of court. The RIAA and other organizations made tons of money using this "John Doe" scare tactic.

But within the last few years, cases have been thrown out because IP addresses don't necessarily point to actual pirates, and/or the alleged downloader resides outside the court's jurisdiction. But even with the new CAS scheme put in place, content owners like NBC are still sending legal threats to alleged downloaders subscribed to broadband services outside the CAS envelope.

As for Russia, the country seems to be taking a similar stance, wanting to keep the local court system void of any massive "John Doe" sweeps. "We do not plan to hold Internet users liable for downloading as they do in the U.S., where owners of computers can end up in court,” Grigoryev said. "Responsibility [for illegal downloads] will be placed on the owners of pirate websites."

He then added that file-sharers will "enter an educational campaign" without elaborating what that campaign will include. Like the CAS here in the States, downloaders may be warned of their actions, and then tossed into an educational program if the behavior continues. Broadband providers may even have the right to choose whether they want to throttle or sever Internet connections for a short time.

Russia's move to crack down on websites will undoubtedly be watched closely by U.S.-based content owners and lawmakers. Does this mean the Russian government plans to attack local websites directly, or issue takedown notices to search engines much like the American government does with Google? Time will tell.

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