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Duma Committee Approves Draft Bill on Internet Piracy Fines

A State Duma committee has approved a bill to introduce fines of up to 1 million rubles ($30,000) for Internet users, websites, service providers and search engines that fail to comply with an online piracy blacklist.

The bill was approved in the first of its three required readings Tuesday, said Vladimir Pligin, the head of the constitutional affairs committee.

The maximum fine is only applicable to companies, while sanctions for individuals acting as “informational intermediaries” that provide access to pirated content are capped at 5,000 rubles ($150), according to the bill’s text, available on the parliament’s website.

But the sanctions may be reconsidered before the bill is passed, likely to happen during the upcoming fall Duma session, Pligin said.

The bill is a follow-up to an anti-piracy law enacted in July, which allowed temporary extrajudicial blacklisting of websites accused of distributing pirated films and TV shows. The bill made enforcement of the bans the partial responsibility of “information intermediaries,” but spelled out no penalties for their ignoring the blacklist.

The bill does not list types of “informational intermediaries,” but the term — which also featured in the July law — has been interpreted by lawyers to include websites, Internet service providers, search engines and individual users uploading content onto the web.

The Duma expects this fall to expand the anti-piracy law, passed despite outcry from the Internet industry and freedom-of-information activists, to cover all types of copyrighted content posted online.

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