Russia proposes bill to remove pirate sites from searches
Russia’s government has proposed a new bill to parliament that, if passed, would oblige major search engines, including Google and Russia-based Yandex, to remove ‘piracy’ sites from its search results. The legislation is not yet in place but if it is made law, sites that do not respond to takedown notices will be pressured to comply.
The bill was approved at the initial vetting stage on February 17 but it will now need to pass through several stages before becoming law. Copyright holders have long been pursuing search engines, which, they argue, facilitate piracy by directing users to pirate sites. As things stand, entertainment companies can send takedown notices to these sites, but it is considered to be an inefficient way to seek out pirates.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, with the support of the Ministry of Communications, proposed the draft legislation last week. In its draft form, the bill will oblige search engines to remove pirate sites from their results, many of which show up on the first few pages of results. The bill will specifically target those search engines that have not responded to takedown notices after several requests.
Among the targeted piracy sites is RuTracker, which was restricted by Russian ISPs after a ruling from Moscow’s City Court back in 2015. The site was ordered to remove 320,000 torrents to avoid an outright ban. The site chose not to comply and is now effectively blocked. If the new law is passed, all of its search results will be removed.
Putlocker is stripped of domain name after a court order
The popular streaming service Putlocker has had its domain name Putlockers.ch removed. The site’s registrar, EuroDNS, was ordered to revoke the domain after a court in Luxembourg ruled in favour of a major entertainment industry group.
The website is among the most popular for streaming videos and was ranked 252nd most-visited before being shut down, as well as attracting several million monthly visits. The site is among the largest streaming services on the web and is especially popular in the U.S, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Putlocker was put on the US Government’s annual watchlist, though under an incorrect domain name.
The service’s main domain, Putlocker.is, went offline last year, which has now been followed by the backup Putlocker.ch address. Users attempting to visit the site now land on a connection failure page. A Whois enquiry, as shown below, has the registrar as EuroDNS and details a 127.0.0.1 blackhole.
According to EuroDNS’s Chief Legal Officer, they were ordered to take the domain offline from the Tribunal d’arrondissement de Luxembourg. The court ruled in favour of the Belgian Entertainment Association last week. To fulfil the order and to preclude the owner from moving the domain to another registrar, the domain was transferred to EuroDNS.
“The owner modification was the sole means we had at our disposal to comply with the decision which requires that EuroDNS prevent any ‘reactivation’ of this domain name until its expiration date,” said the chief legal officer. Adding, “Our customer has been duly notified and provided with a copy of the decision”.
At the time of writing, the domain Putlocker.is domain is back online. This domain is registered to the same owner who registered the .is domain last year as well as the Putlockers.ch. It’s unclear at this point whether or not this is the original operational team.