Russia’s third-largest internet company Rambler wants a record 180 billion rubles ($2.87 billion) in compensation from Amazon’s streaming giant Twitch over illegal streams, the Kommersant business daily reported Monday, the second high-profile action Rambler has taken against a U.S. tech company in less than a week.
The lawsuit follows raids on popular web hosting software Nginx’s Moscow office after Rambler claimed ownership rights of its open-source code last week. The raids and brief detentions at Nginx, which was sold to a U.S. company this spring, sparked outrage in Russia’s tech world and renewed concerns of resorting to law enforcement in corporate disputes.
Rambler wants to ban Twitch and seek damages over what it says are “pirated broadcasts” of English football matches, Kommersant reported. Rambler bought exclusive rights to air English Premier League (EPL) matches in Russia for a reported 7 million euros earlier this year.
“We had to go to court against Twitch Interactive because we uncovered a significant number of illegal broadcasts,” Mikhail Gershkovich, the head of sports projects at Rambler Group, told Kommersant.
The Moscow City Court ordered a temporary suspension of EPL streams on Twitch after the lawsuit came to light, the Ekho Moskvy radio station reported Monday. It is scheduled to hear Rambler’s case against Twitch this Friday, according to the court database, which says the lawsuit was registered in August.
Twitch’s lawyer Yuliana Tabastayeva called Rambler’s case unfounded.
Twitch “only provides users with access to the platform, doesn’t post its own content, can’t change content posted by users or monitor possible violations,” Kommersant quoted Tabastayeva as saying.
The 180-billion-ruble lawsuit likely sets a record in Russia in terms of damages sought in online disputes, intellectual property expert Anatoly Semyonov told Kommersant.
“Rambler’s latest actions are directed against American companies and are in a sense, paternalistic,” Semyonov said.
Russia is the third-largest user of Twitch worldwide.
“If they block Twitch, we’re one step from blocking YouTube,” Sports.ru website co-founder Dmitry Navosha told the publication.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, bought 46.5% of Rambler Group from billionaire Alexander Mamut in April.
Russia previously blocked the popular streaming platform DailyMotion over copyright claims in 2017.