Russia Cracks Down on YouTube Over Illegal Content

Moscow - H - 2015
Associated Press

The communications watchdog threatened that access to the video service could be blocked.

Russian authorities issued a warning to YouTube, threatening that the service could be blocked in Russia over illegal content uploaded by its users.

Although the service promptly blocked access to all copies of illegal content, the authorities' move showed that they may not be entirely satisfied with YouTube's standard procedure for removing copyrighted content.

On Wednesday, Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications watchdog, announced on its website that it is issuing a warning to YouTube over illegal copies of episodes of popular local TV series Fizruk (P.E. Teacher) and Chernobyl available on the video service.

The agency was apparently unhappy with the fact that although the copyrighted material was originally removed under YouTube's standard procedure, users then uploaded it again. Roskomnadzor threatened that if YouTube didn't take more serious steps, access to the entire video service might be blocked by some local Internet providers.

YouTube responded quickly by blocking access to all the dubious content, Roskomnadzor said on Thursday on its Twitter account.

"YouTube has copyright and content management tools to give rights holders control of their content on YouTube," Google's Russian office said in a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter. "When a copyright holder notifies us of a video that infringes their copyright, we remove the content promptly, and terminate the accounts of users with multiple copyright strikes."

Meanwhile, the situation with YouTube is, to some extent, similar to that with Russia's most popular social network VKontakte. For years, rights holders complained that although it has a procedure for removing illegitimate video and music content at rights holders' requests, the same material would be again uploaded by other users within minutes.