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In an effort to crack down on the proliferation of pirated content on major torrent sites, the Russian media watchdog Roscomnadzor has promised that the 15 most popular torrent sites will be permanently blocked in Russia in 2o16.

Russia had attempted to crack down on piracy with a tough law in 2013, which gave rights holders the legal mechanism to have sites blocked if they do not respond to takedown requests. It was revealed earlier in the year that since law was passed, about 280 sites believed to be connected to piracy had been blocked or otherwise restricted in Russia. Many sites had their restrictions lifted by cooperating and removing the pirated content. However, infringing content often reappeared on the sites after being initially taken down. Under this new plan, sites that are considered persistent offenders will lose their opportunity to have the block lifted, and will be stuck under a permanent ban.

While it might be expected that users will turn to VPNs or other workarounds to bypass the site blocking, Roscomnadzor believes the block will be very successful in cutting down the traffic these sites receive. The agency made the astonishing claim that, “according to statistics 95% of people do not use tools to bypass locks.”

In a poll conducted on Twitter, which had 4506 respondents, the watchdog found that 37% stated they use torrents because they do not want to pay, while 36% selected a generic answer for “other reasons.” Many of those who selected “other reasons” stated they were looking for content unavailable through other channels. The third place answer, at 17%, were those who stated they use torrents because they do not know where to legally purchase the content they are looking for. 10% of respondents state they do not use torrents.

The results from this poll are not scientific and should not be considered indicative of the general population. We have no idea exactly who took part in it, however the fact that it was conducted on Twitter will likely bias towards certain demographics. It is even possible that trolls seeking to deliberately screw with the results may have participated, as is sometimes the case in online polls. Roscomnadzor has taken the results seriously and its takeaway from the poll is that for content providers, “it is necessary to find a balance in which the content will be available, and the price will match the quality,” but added, “However, many simply do not want to pay.”

Will permanently blocking these sites significantly reduce piracy in Russia? Leave your comments below.


Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

  • Aeloth

    So according to them 95% of people who pirate through torrents wouldn’t use a VPN? Despite how simple it is to use them, Torrents are something mostly tech-savvy people rely on, which means it’s very likely these people will know about VPNs or research ways to bypass the block. That statistic sounds like bogus to me.

    If that statistic holds up it’s likely because they find it easier to use alternative sites. Remove those and they’ll end up with a VPN.

    I also wonder about the sample that 95% refers to. They’re unlikely to have universal data and even with a big enough sample I bet they inflated it to make it look like they’re doing a good job. This could easily be done by lumping together ludicrous blocks that may have nothing to do with piracy and that mostly affect people who are not even aware that they’re being blocked from accesing certain content along with piracy related ones.

  • webkilla

    meh – depending on how this ‘ban’ is implemented it’ll likely have no real effect.

    Like in Denmark where all ISPs are required by law to block pirating sites, then you can just use a non-ISP DNS. Google-DNS, OpenDNS – there are many options, and they don’t block any of the pirating sites either

    still, mandating by law that ISPs have to block these places on their DNS’ is pretty much all the copyright holders and their lawyers can require.

  • Nope Naw

    “That statistic sounds like bogus to me.”

    Welcome to the vast majority of statistics. Including that one I just made.