Rambler Group has filed a copyright lawsuit in the Moscow City Court against the streaming service Twitch, demanding a “halt to the distribution of pirated broadcasts” of English Premier League (EPL) soccer games on the network, according to the newspaper Kommersant. As an injunctive measure, the Russian court subsequently ordered the blocking of EPL games broadcast on Twitch.
Rambler also seeks almost $2.9 billion in compensation for losses caused by Twitch’s copyright infringement, Twitch spokesperson Julianna Tabastaeva revealed in court. According to Tabastaeva, Rambler initially sought only the block Twitch streams, later demanded 147 million rubles (about $2.3 million), and then dramatically raised its claim on November 27.
A source told Kommersant that Rambler’s claimed damages skyrocketed after the company multiplied the number of views of illegally streamed ELP games (36,000) by the maximum compensation amount for such copyright offenses (5 million rubles, or about $80,000).
Tabastaeva says Rambler’s lawsuit is unfair because the service “only provides users with access to the platform,” while the users themselves are responsible for the content they publish, which Twitch cannot change, she explained.
A representative from Rambler Group told the website RNS that they’re currently in negotiations with Twitch to reach a settlement. “The service has given us tools to fight pirated broadcasts, and now we are only discussing compensation for damages caused between August and November,” said Mikhail Gershkovich, the head of Rambler Group’s sports projects. Meanwhile, Twitch’s representatives deny any negotiations with Rambler on a settlement agreement.
Intellectual-property expert Anatoly Semyonov says Rambler’s lawsuit could be the largest of its kind in the Russian legal system.
In April 2019, Rambler Group acquired the exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League games in Russia. The company has filed multiple lawsuits alleging infringement of its copyright to these sporting events. In September, for example, Rambler Internet Holding sued Mail.Ru Group over illegal broadcasts of EPL games on the social network VKontakte.
On Thursday, December 12, Russian law enforcement raided the Moscow office of the IT company “Nginx,” which owns the eponymous web-server used by almost 500 million websites around the world. According to several reports, Nginx co-founders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov spent several hours in police interrogation. The search is part of a criminal case based on charges by a company tied to the Russian billionaire and Rambler Group co-owner Alexander Mamut, whose businesses believe they own the rights to the Nginx web-server because Sysoev started developing the code while working for Rambler in 2004.