StarLight Digital, as the copyright holder’s agent, is regularly monitoring the Internet for pirated copies of its content. Recently, it has detected a website on domain otdel44.io.ua, which illegally placed the Media Group’s audiovisual content.
Dmitry Levin, Chief of Content Monitoring Unit at StarLight Digital: “There were no contacts on website otdel44.io.ua. Therefore, we checked the information about the website owner using the WhoIs Service.” WhoIs is a system that provides public access to information about any domain name and its administrator. The administrator of the above domain turned out LLC “VOLIA-Cable”.
Let us recall that the “Law on State Support for Cinematography in Ukraine” has been recently passed, establishing a rigid anti-piracy mechanism. The copyright holder’s lawyer shall get in touch with the website. To do it, he should send an email outlining violation, presenting all the documents for the content, and suggesting either to use a legal player, or to remove that content. If the website does not respond or does not identify itself enough to file a lawsuit, the copyright holder shall contact this website’s hoster. He shall send it a request for blocking access to illegal content, presenting all evidence of his rights to the content.
Since there was no contact data on the otdel44 website at all, the copyright holder turned to the hoster VOLIA. Dmitry Levin: “We addressed an official request to the hosting company to remedy the violation committed by the owner of website otdel44.io.ua. LLC “VOLIA-Cable” responded quickly to our request. The website was blocked”.
Since this is the first case to our known on the market, we asked the hoster how it was, and whether the practice fitted the expectations.
“We are regularly negotiating with media groups and have repeatedly declared our strong legality stance: the use of pirated content is unacceptable for us, – as the company commented on. – We are keen on competition, for this is a challenge and motivation. However, it is hard to compete fairly when some market players “respect no rules” (placing pirated content). Therefore, we are active in supporting legislative initiatives aimed at the market regulation”.
It is quite a common statement, but the headline is commission. The law works.
We decided to ask other hosters about their conduct in the above situation.
WHAT ABOUT OTHERS?
We inquired five large hosting providers of Ukraine, whether they received similar copyright holders’ requests. And if this happens, what will they do.
“Of all the requests we received, these are the simplest ones in terms of solution due to the clear procedure for their processing prescribed by law,” as commented on by Ilya Rudenko, CEO at LLC “Hosting Ukraine”. However, Mr.Rudenko does not think his company would receive such requests: “From the very beginning of our operation we did not allow placing torrent trackers, file sharing services, online cinemas, and websites with pirated software or music. Therefore, we shall not have the above websites.”
Another hosting provider “Datagroup” sent us a letter stating that so far it had not received similar requests. However, it deems it possible in the future. In this case: “there would be taken measures to check the information, inviting professionals from the Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine, and once the information is true, it would shut down resources in accordance with the law and in execution of the orders of Ukraine’s judicial authorities.” “Datagroup” also emphasizes that “the company operates strictly inside the Ukrainian law” and “implements the national anti-piracy policy within its competence”.
The rest of the market players, we asked for comments (the company “Kolokol” and “Adamant-DS”) reserved their answer. We also sent our request to the company “Imena.ua / MiroHost”, but haven’t received any reply either.
Copyright holders bring hosters to protect intellectual property rights throughout the world. With varied success, you know.
Copyright holders in Sweden insist on drastic measures against online piracy. Their arguments are as follows: the hosters earn hundreds of millions of dollars on this abuse. The local Internet provider Bahnhof denies this claim and says that it is not going to take on the role of “anti-piracy police”. Jon Karlung, CEO at Bahnhof: “This is a plain nonsense… Our task is to ensure free online traffic, and we are not the anti-piracy police. We inform users about unsecure websites, and go on doing so, without any copyright holders’ interference.”
Sometimes, hosters are invited to anti-piracy via the courts. The case is the decision in favor of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in the Commercial Court of Dublin. The Irish courts caused hosters to block access to illegally placed content. The trials were conducted against 9 Internet providers. Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director at MPA EMEA: “Ireland has a fantastic film industry that creates thousands of jobs. Therefore, it is important to protect it from corrupt providers that make money on thefts and illegal sales of content… That is why the creative community around the world should cooperate to address this problem”, as Mr. McCoy stated.
Here, you have an example of how hosters are involved in anti-piracy campaigns as for football championships. Recently, the British Court ordered the hosters to prevent illegal broadcasts of the Premier League matches in Season 2017-2018. Hosters will block thousands of IP-addresses of servers caught on illegal broadcasts of Premier League football matches.
The South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) asked hosters to block access to pirate websites. SAFACT notified the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) about its willingness to go to court if Internet providers would not make a conciliatory gesture. In response, providers reported on engineering problems with blocking some domains. First, due to Cloudflare that allows hiding IP-addresses of websites. Second, due to technological awareness of torrent site users. They know how to bypass most filters of local ISPs using VPN.
The Associations of US copyright holders MPAA (moviemakers) and RIAA (record companies) hold the opinion that hosters must comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). US copyright holders plan to conduct a “voluntary and joint efforts” policy with providers and asked legislators to update the DMCA. This will allow the Internet to be more open, but guided by stricter rules. The rules that require hosters to block illegal content. Now, every hoster must officially register by 31 December 2017. As well as to indicate (or update) contact information on the website, in order to receive notifications about violators of copyright and associated rights.
The anti-piracy company Rightscorp documents IP-addresses of illegal content distributors. Then it sends notifications to their Internet hosters. Rightcorp also initiates that hosters would fine pirate sites. This can be in the format of suspending access to content, or a warning screen, or redirecting to the website for fine payments.
BACK TO UKRAINE
In the light of recent activity of copyright holders in Ukraine, many pirate sites moved abroad.
“That is not so bad, as resumed by Katerina Fedorova, Head of the “Clear Sky” Anti-piracy Initiative, – It becomes more expensive for a pirate to broadcast content to Ukraine, and his financial model goes down. Now, our task is to attract advertisers to weaken it for their part. To give up assigning advertising budgets to these sites”. In the future, we are planning to cooperate with associations of other countries to make “hiding” hard to impossible, as Katerina Fedorova adds.