July 10, 2017
On July 1, 2017, the law on the regulation of audio-visual services (also known as the law on online cinemas) enters into force.
The full name of the law: Federal Law No. 87-FZ "On amendments to the Federal law 'On Information, Information Technologies and the Protection of Information' and to individual legislative acts of the Russian Federation" dated May 1, 2017 (hereinafter the "Law").
A site, a site page on the Internet, an information system and (or) a computer program meeting the following set of criteria:
A site that does not match at least one of the above criteria is not an audio-visual service, and is not subject to new liabilities and restrictions. The Law also provides for certain exceptions. For example, the following services are not audio-visual services:
Several obligations are imposed on the owners of audio-visual services. In particular, the owners of audio-visual services will be required to (1) keep a record of users, (2) monitor the content and (3) provide their contact information.
(1) Keeping a record of users
The owners are obliged to install software programs to track the number of users of their resources. The list of such "counters" will be provided by Roskomnadzor.
(2) Monitoring the content
The owners are obliged to:
(3) Contact information
The owners are required to post on the page of the service the e-mail address as well as surnames and initials (for individuals) or names (for legal entities). This address will be deemed a valid address for legal communication.
The Law imposes restrictions on foreign ownership of Russian audiovisual services. Such services may be owned only by Russian legal entities or citizens of the Russian Federation not having the nationality of another state. However, there are various rules depending on the share of Russian users in the total audience of the respective service.
< 50% – subject to approval of the government commission
Foreign owners of the information resource that is used for distribution through the Internet of audio-visual works, if the number of its users located in Russia is less than 50% of the total number of the users of this resource, can own, manage, or control more than 20% of the shares in the share capital (including indirectly) of the owner of the audiovisual service subject to approval of the government commission.
> 50% – without restrictions
No restrictions are imposed on the audiovisual services with a share of Russian users exceeding 50%.
The Law provides for the establishment of the register of audio-visual services that will be maintained by Roskomnadzor. This public authority will carry out independent monitoring and will enter in the register the information resources that meet the criteria of audio-visual services.
Roskomnadzor is also empowered to send inquiries to identify the owners of audio-visual services and to file a petition in court to restrict access to the audio-visual service.
The Law provides for administrative liability:
The Law also provides for liability for the owners of audio-visual services for violation of the restrictions on foreign participation. Access to such audiovisual services through Internet access operators can be restricted.