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Warner Bros. Becomes 1st Foreign Company to Use Russia's Anti-Piracy Law

In May this year the law was changed to allow the rights holders to directly apply to owners of websites which contain illegal material.

U.S. film corporation Warner Bros. has become the first foreign rights-holder to stop illegal distribution of its movie on the Internet using Russia's anti-privacy legislation, government media watchdog Roskomnadzor said in a statement Wednesday.

“Roskomnadzor received the decision of the Moscow City Court made on the basis of claims of foreign rights-holder,Warner Bros. Entertainment,” the statement said.

Warner Bros. applied directly to the Moscow City Court in order to stop the illegal distribution by Russian torrent websites of its film “Entourage,” that was released in Russia on July 30.

As a result, 16 owners of the websites have already restricted the access to the film. The other four have been ordered to remove illegal content before Aug. 24. Otherwise, the Internet pages of these resources will be blocked, Roskomnadzor said.

Before filing a lawsuit to the Moscow City Court, Warner Bros. attempted to resolve the matter.

The representatives of Warner Bros. requested the websites to remove the illegal content but received no reply, Vedomosti newspaper reported earlier in August, citing an unidentified close to the company.

The Russian anti-piracy law came into effect on Aug. 1, 2013. The law allows the authorities to block the websites that contain illegally published movies.

In May this year the law was changed to allow the rights holders to directly apply to owners of websites which contain illegal material as the websites are now obliged to publish their contact information.

If the rights-holders don't receive A reply, they can file a lawsuit. Roskomnadzor, following the court's decision, gives notice to the website providers to remove within three days the prohibited content. If the illegal content is not removed, the website is blocked for 15 days. After the second lawsuit from the same rights-holder the website can be blocked for good.

Warner Bros. is not seeking to have the websites blocked for good, Lina Gevorgyan, a lawyer at Webkontrol, a company that represented Warner Bros. in the court, told Vedomosti.

The goal of the company in this case is to receive a court decision that will oblige the owners of the websites to remove illegal copies of the film and will prevent them from uploading the film on the websites again, she said.

Roskomnadzor hailed the case as a successful application of the law.

“Major foreign rights-holders have begun to use Russian anti-piracy legislation to protect their rights, thereby proving the demand for this law and its effectiveness,” Roskomnadzor's statement said.

Within two years of Russian anti-piracy legislation Roskomnadzor received 401 decisions of Moscow City Court against 1,102 web resources. One hundred and seventy-seven of them are currently being blocked, Roskomnadzor said.

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