Online-piracy by Region: Eastern Europe

As the regulation of the online sphere develops rapidly in many countries around the globe there are still territories that remain as huge infringing content hubs. One of such territories is fairly considered Eastern Europe. Why has this region become an international online-piracy hub? What are the main platforms for illegal content distribution? What should Rightholders do in order to fight against their copyright violations? 

Overview

Eastern Europe is a unique and essential region for quality anti-piracy protection. This region includes such countries as Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Chekch Republic, region of Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Kazakhstan, etc. The key difference of this region from the Western part of Europe is that there are many domestic and national social media platforms that are used by the majority of people living there. Domestic platforms such as example Yandex – a search engine – are used more than Google, reaching a maximum of 64% of the market share. 

According to Research and Markets forecasts, the number of SVOD subscriptions in Eastern Europe is going to more than double by 2026, totaling 47 million subscriptions

 

Largest countries in the region

 
Territory Population, 2021 GDP, U.S. dollars Languages Most popular infringing sites
Russia 146 mln 1.6 tln Russian VK.com, OK.ru, My.mail.ru
Poland 38 mln 655 bln Polish CDA.pl, Chomikuj.pl
Czech Republic 11 mln 277 bln Czech Uloz.to
Kazakhstan 18 mln 194 bln Kazakh, Russian VK.com, OK.ru, My.mail.ru
   

A bit of a deep look into each country of the region 

To better understand the situation with the online-piracy in Eastern Europe, let's take a look at the situation of each country in the region. 

Russia

The main platforms of the Russian segment of the Internet are VK.com (1.42 billion monthly visits), OK.ru (668.26 million) and My.mail.ru (29.66 million) which are controlled by one IT-conglomerate VK, former Mail Group.  

VK.com is ranked as the 15th most visited site on the planet. Its popularity is driven predominantly by piracy. This social media platform does not have embedded YouTube Content ID-like video pre-filtering tools. Upon upload, illegal content quickly goes viral and collects thousands of views.

All three platforms are fully compliant and remove infringements within 10-15 min on average. With fast, accurate and in-depth coverage, these resources can be kept infringement-free.

Also it is necessary to mention Yandex which simplifies consumption of illegal content by positively indexing non-complying illegal sites. It also enables watching of videos on-site, without redirecting users to the sites that host infringing files.  Yandex has a delisting procedure, which, although grossly time-consuming and complex, enables it to remove infringing links from search engine results.

Poland 

There are two main polnish platforms which distribute copyrighted content – CDA.pl (48.28 million monthly visits) and Chomikuj.pl (7.98 million). CDA.pl is a platform with user-generated content, focused primarily on films and TV series, most of which are distributed illegally. 

Chomikuj.pl (7.98 million) is another major infringing resource for Poland. Starting as a file-sharing platform for students in 2006, Chomikuj.pl has become one of the largest resources for distributing copyright-protected files. As of October 2021, the website ranks 4th by the number of URLs delisted from Google search results globally.

Both platforms are fully compliant with takedown notices and can be kept infringement-free. 

These UGC sites, however, do not have declared plans to install a video pre-filtering feature that prevents copyright violations. 

Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive which aims to oblige video-sharing platforms to pre-filter copyright content was blocked by Poland.

Czech Republic

Popular Czech UGC platform – Uloz.to – attracts 13.2 million site visits every month. Compared to other infringing platforms in the region, Uloz.to takes active steps to grow and protect its piracy-generated traffic, employing various tools to such purpose. For example, all content uploaded to Uloz.to automatically reappears on its multiple mirrors: Uloto.cz, Ulozto.net, Ulozto.sk, etc. The links to the video are identical on all sites, however, require separate take-down notices for each domain name.

In 2020, Uloz.to provided selected partners with an abuse tool allowing immediate takedown of infringing content. As of October 2021, information regarding the availability of such a tool is no longer available. Uloz.to remains 100% compliant with copyright claims.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is among the fastest-growing markets in the CIS region. Legal Russian and Ukrainian platforms IVI.com, Okko.tv and Megogo.net dominate the internal OTT market along with YouTube. As of 2020, 51% of the Kazakh population were fluent in Russian, however, the Kazakh language is an official language of the republic. The main source of pirated content used by a Kazakh audience is a Russian social media platform VK.com. It attracts 34.6 million monthly visits from Kazakhstan only. There are also online streaming sites that are specific to Kazakhstan.