Some of the top web companies in Russia have published an open letter to the entertainment industries demanding that they stop blaming them for Internet piracy. Google, Vkontakte, Mail.ru and two leading search engines say that the responsibility for infringements lies with their users and are asking that legal action be directed at them. They are also urging lawmakers to update an outdated legal framework.
Around the world the music and movie industries are doing their best to hold both Internet service providers and those who run websites liable for the actions of their users.
Over in Russia the pressure being placed upon site owners has increased dramatically in recent times, so much so that yesterday some of the countries largest web companies published an open letter directed at the entertainment industries and lawmakers.
Google, mail service Mail.ru, social networking site Vkontakte, and search engines Yandex and Rambler released a joint statement Friday asking copyright holders to cease legal action against them over unauthorized content stored or linked to by their services.
The companies say that it is end users who are responsible for the posting of copyright works and as such it is they who should be held liable. Furthermore, they claim it is impossible to monitor millions of users to ensure their every act is legal.
The entertainment industries do not accept this line and insist that web companies should keep their systems free of copyright works, if necessary by employing teams of people to do so.
The five companies say that the law has failed to keep up with developments on the web and clarification is needed. Unlike other parts of the world, current Russian legislation does not indicate who can be held accountable for unauthorized content placed on Internet services.
“In Europe, the USA and other countries, the limitation of liability of information intermediaries in such situations was legally settled more than ten years ago,” the companies write.
In order to help bridge this gap, the site owners are offering rightsholders the opportunity to settle disputes indirectly with alleged copyright infringers. Once a complaint is received, site operators would suspend access to the material in question and inform the user/uploader of the complaint. The user would then have the chance, through the site operator, to dispute the claim with the rightsholder.
“We believe that, with the above procedure, the owners of Internet services should not be responsible for the content posted by users,” the companies write in the letter.
Having this type of takedown policy would hopefully avoid situations such as the one Vkontakte currently finds itself in. The social networking giant is currently being sued by Gala Records for around $22,000 because users uploaded songs by Russian pop stars to the site.
Last week, a British citizen was arrested over his involvement with the Mulve software which allowed users to make a search and download music from Vkontakte’s servers.
The letter comes at a time when a bill concerning Internet regulation, which contains a proposal that service providers could be taxed in order to compensate rightsholders for perceived losses, is under Government review.