Russian Torrent Site Moderators Convicted of Piracy

MOSCOW, October 16 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court has found a Russian couple who moderated torrent trackers website guilty of piracy in a ruling both sides claim indicates the authorities’ intention to take a harder line on illegal file sharing.

Andrei and Nadezhda Lopukhov were given a four-year suspended sentence on copyright infringement charges in Moscow’s Timiryazevsky District court on Tuesday reported.

The couple was accused of inflicting 750 million rubles’ ($23 million) worth of damage on copyright holders to some 30 movies, including “Shrek the Third” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” through torrent tracker sites they moderated, Bolshoi Gorod magazine reported in July.

Torrent sharing is a popular form of peer-to-peer file exchange that lets you download small sections of files from different users simultaneously, and is often used to download films illegally.

The couple will likely appeal the ruling, their lawyer Sarkis Darbinyan, who is also a member of the unregistered Pirate Party of Russia, which campaigns against intellectual property rights, said Wednesday.

Darbinyan said the verdict sets two “dangerous precedents” by accepting what he called an inflated estimate of the damage caused, and by ruling that publishing torrent links is in itself copyright infringement.

A spokesman for the Russian Anti-Pirate Organization, the pro-copyright lobby group that initiated the case, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that this ruling will make it easier for Russian police to tackle other torrent disseminators.

He also said that the group does not plan to sue the couple for damages, but stressed it will file similar suits in future.

Russia has stepped up Internet regulations in recent months, including by passing a tough law against online film piracy that came into force in August and is expected to be expanded by the end of the year to cover all forms of copyright infringement.


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