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Court in Russia Rules to Definitively Ban Film-Sharing Sites

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A court in Moscow has ordered the definitive closure of websites used for downloading movies in landmark rulings that follow the recent introduction of a strict anti-piracy law.

MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) – A court in Moscow has ordered the definitive closure of several websites used for downloading movies in landmark rulings that follow the recent introduction of a strict anti-piracy law.

Moscow City Court ruled Tuesday that Rutor.org and Turbofilm.ru would be subjected to state-imposed blacklisting unless they take down copyrighted content.

While the case marks an escalation in Russian efforts to combat copyright theft, critics of the anti-piracy law have expressed concern at what they say are unfair provisions in the legislation.

Illegally shared content cited in Tuesday’s ruling included several Russian television shows and British sitcom “The IT Crowd.”

A representative for the state telecommunications watchdog told RIA Novosti at the hearing that the first ruling to definitively shut down a content-sharing website was passed Monday. The official was unable to provide any details.

Under the anti-piracy law enacted in July, film copyright holders that believe their rights have been infringed can seek a court ban on the website sharing their material without first contacting the uploader. The court can then slap a temporary ban on the site as a provisional measure before definitively determining whether any copyrighted material was in fact being shared.

A petition calling for the repeal of the legislation in August gathered 100,000 signatures, enough to mandate a government review.

"This law is aimed not so much against distribution of illegal content as against the development of the Internet in Russia," the petition said.

The Communist Party launched a bid in the lower house of parliament in August to have the law repealed, arguing that legitimate sites sharing an IP address with a pirate site could be taken down as a result.

The government has rejected efforts to repeal the anti-piracy law, while lawmakers with the ruling United Russia party say the legislation will gradually be extended to cover all kinds of copyrighted content.

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