Russia Bans the Country’s Largest Torrent Tracker For Ever

News and Analysis

On November 9, 2015, the City Court of Moscow returned a verdict as to so-called ?eternal ban’ of Russia’s largest torrent portal, following a claim from Exmo publishing house.

The court ruling has not become effective yet, and the site’s administration has a month to submit a petition of appeal, so the portal will be accessible for 13 million usears at least until mid-December. Notably, the court’s ruling fails to heed interests of thousands copyright holders and authors who make their works available via the tracker themselves. If the resource will be eventually banned, millions of users may be deprived from hundreds of thousands of works published under open licenses.

Censorship in Russia became a prevailing issue in past few years. A non-profit dubbed Roskomsvoboda (an acronym for Russian Committee for Freedom, a pun on Roskomnadzor, which literally means Russian Committee for Supervision) was established in 2012 in order to counter the issue, and provide technical, legal, and consulting support to owners of banned sites. Notably, the organization recently celebrated two anniversaries: 3 years as of the first Russian law on banning of internet resources, and 3 years as of the organization’s establishment.

“Life-long ban of will not result in the resource’s dissolution. In the next few months that the site will probably use to appeal the ruling, the resource’s audience will only expand. Then, after the banning, the traffic will probably drop, but, if so, it would comprise 15 to 20 percent. Moreover, rutracker is likely to delete copyright holders’ accounts they used to cancel the distribution of what they thought violated their copyright. Thus, previously moderated content will become available for everyone following the site’s ban,” Artiom Kozliuk, Roskomsvoboda’s spokesperson, commented on the issue to Cnews.

One should note that the banned site has been struggling to stay afloat for a long time, and deleted content following the request of a copyright holder thereof. A few weeks ago, the tracker surveyed the users at the forum whether the site should continue deleting the materials in case a copyright holder presents a relevant claim, or the users are ready for the ban, and know how to bypass it. Back then, most users said they knew how to bypass the ban, and no deleting was required anymore.

Meanwhile, Rutracker has plans to launch an alternate platform in the Tor network so that users could have an alternate opportunity of accessing downloadable content. This was announced by the resource’s administration in an interview to Roskomsvoboda:

“Even though Tor, to our reckoning, is not that widespread, and probably too difficult for any user category as compared to other access-restoration tools, still, it is a strategic issue of teaching our users to deal with new web technologies.”

Russian web community is actively discussing the old questions of ?What to do?’ and ?Who’s to blame?’ Many experts continue highlighting senselessness of bans – both for users and copyright holders. Earlier this year, the ominous Roskomnadzor censoring the web and banning the sites, has blocked several resourced dedicated to bitcoin, including However, back in May, the Russian community defeated the organization having carried a case, and all those sites were unbanned. Meanwhile, owners of the risk zone sites have no illusions, and understand quite well that their project may become unavailable for Russian audiences any moment.

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