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Russia’s largest publisher has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Telegram for allowing distribution of pirated copies of Stephen King and Dmitry Glukhovsky’s books through the platform. The cited goal is to block Telegram in Russia, but according to the anti-piracy group involved in the action, the introduction of fingerprint technology is preferred.
With over 500 million monthly active users, the Telegram messaging platform is a real Internet giant. According to co-founder Pavel Durov, it was the world’s most downloaded app in January 2021 and is supported by a user base that has grown by 40% every year since its launch in 2013.
Along with millions of regular users, Telegram is also used by some as a way to access pirated content. As a result, the company has been criticized by the RIAA and the MPAA, made an appearance on the EU’s “piracy watch list” and asked to block pirated content or even block itself.
Lawsuits target telegram for facilitating book piracy
As Russia’s largest publisher, Eksmo-AST is well known for its anti-piracy work, including its part in permanently blocking ISPs placed on the giant torrent site RuTracker. The company has also targeted YouTube and Google, the latter of which allegedly hosted hacking apps. He now has Telegram in his sights.
On July 20, publishing companies AST and Eksmo, both members of the Eksmo-AST group, filed a pair of lawsuits against Telegram, claiming the messaging platform had failed to remove the infringing content.
According to Kommersant, which recently uncovered the complaints, the Moscow City Court was happy to issue a preliminary injunction, meaning books including Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033 may be blocked by ISPs general public under the orders of the telecommunications watchdog. Roscomnadzor.
AZAPI anti-piracy group represents Eksmo-AST
AZAPI’s Maxim Ryabyko said Telegram has removed content in response to complaints from publishers since 2019, including 52,000 pirated books and 31 channels available in the web version of Telegram. The company also blocked 346 channels in its iOS app according to Kommersant, plus 69 channels in the Google Play version.
Despite these efforts, AZAPI says not all complaints receive a positive response from Telegram, so Eksmo-AST hopes its lawsuits will prompt the company to act. The goal is to achieve a “critical mass” of court rulings against Telegram so that it falls under Russian repeat offender laws. This could mean that Telegram finds itself completely blocked by the ISPs in the country.
Interestingly, blocking is not the primary focus of the Eksmo-AST / AZAPI lawsuit. Instead, it is hoped that, like vKontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook), Telegram will install fingerprinting technology that will allow publishers to automatically remove infringing content. Telegram had previously been invited to implement such a system, but this proposal never saw the light of day.
Can the telegram be blocked?
In 2018, Telegram was notoriously targeted for failing to hand over the encryption keys to authorities, but blocking measures failed to bring down the platform. This raises the question of whether the platform could be blocked now, if it refuses to comply with Eksmo-AST / AZAPI’s wishes.
Russia recently hinted that it has the ability to restrict access to content it deems illegal or offensive on problematic services. âMuch has changed since the history of Telegram,â said Alexander Khinshtein, chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications.
Since it appears that Telegram mainly complies with Eksmo-AST / AZAPI opt-out requirements, a compromise can still be found. It is not yet clear whether this will result in the implementation of a fingerprint system, but it is clear that rights holders want access to more powerful tools.