MOSCOW, June 12 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian parliamentary committee approved for review a new controversial anti-piracy law dubbed “the Russian SOPA” by critics after a similar US bill.
The bill will undergo on Friday the first of three required readings in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, and may be passed by mid-July, lawmaker Robert Shlegel said Tuesday, Vedomosti daily reported Tuesday.
Duma’s legislation committee approved the bill on Tuesday despite outcry from Russian internet companies and advocates of internet freedom.
The bill is unofficially endorsed by the Kremlin, Vedomosti said, citing unnamed governmental sources.
The bill would allow copyright holders to have access to allegedly pirated content online blocked on a court order. Whole websites can be blacklisted under the law, which appoints a single court in Moscow to handle all copyright-related complaints nationwide.
Yandex, Russia’s biggest online search engine, slammed the bill in its corporate blog last week, saying it is ridden with technical flaws that could allow to indefinitely ban almost any website.
The bill protects the interests of copyright holders at the expense of web users and the internet industry, whose representatives were not consulted by the authors, Yandex said. The legislation was co-penned by an actress, an opera singer and a film director, all of them federal lawmakers.
Prominent anti-censorship website Rublacklist.net compared the bill to US SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), a draconian anti-piracy legislation introduced in the US Congress in 2011, but mothballed after a wave of protests, including by the English Wikipedia.
Ironically, bill co-author Yelena Drapeko, a former actress, admitted on Vesti.ru to downloading films on torrents.
“I don’t quite understand whether it is legal or not,” she said about the torrents she was using.
Russia introduced last November an internet blacklist that allows for extrajudicial ban of websites accused of promoting child abuse, suicide and illegal drug use. More than 6,600 websites are currently blacklisted, 97 percent of them blocked by mistake over technicalities, according to Rublacklist.net.
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The British experience can be instructive for Russia. London retains its British Commonwealth if it wants to use this as a foundation for integration in the future. That’s a valuable lesson for Russian experts who are calling for an end to “ineffective” associations like the CIS, the Russian World and others.