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100,000 Russians Sign Petition Against New Anti-Piracy Law

The recently enacted legislation may have to be amended.

MOSCOW -- A recently enacted and heavily criticized Russian anti-piracy law may have to be amended in response to a petition against it signed by 100,000 citizens.

It took just over a month to attain the signatures on the petition published on the Open Russian Initiative website, a new tool introduced to step up public participation in the legislative domain.

The law, which went into effect on August 1, seeks to block websites containing illegal material without waiting for a court verdict. It was supposed to primarily curb illegal distribution of movies and TV shows online, but many observers slammed it. Among the main criticisms was that the legislation could lead to blocking legitimate websites and that it excessively focuses on rights holders’ interests while failing to honor the rights of regular users.

STORY: New Anti-Piracy Law Allows Russian Rights Owners to Tackle illegal Internet Download Sites

Although the signatories demanded the controversial legislation be overturned, under Russian law, it can't be invalidated. However, the petition could bring about amendments. Now the law has to be analyzed by an expert group, which will present possible amendments to the law within two months.

Since the law was enacted, two complaints against alleged online pirates have been filed. The distribution company Kino Bez Granits filed a complaint against Russia’s largest social networking website Vkontakte, accusing the site of distributing movies to which it holds the rights. However, the Moscow city court threw out the complaint, saying the distributor failed to provide proper evidence that it had the rights to the movies in question.

Meanwhile, another complaint, filed by the Seichas, the holder of rights to several TV series, which are allegedly available on rutor.org and turbofilm.tv without proper authorization, led to the blocking of those two websites.