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Russian internet company sues Twitch for $3 billion, seeks to have it blocked

(Image credit: Twitch)

Rambler Group, the third-largest internet company in Russia, has filed a lawsuit against Twitch over illegal broadcasts of English Premier League soccer in that country. As reported by Kommersant (Google translated, via VGC), Rambler claims that streams of matches on Twitch violated its exclusive broadcast rights approximately 36,000 times, and as a result it is now seeking 180 billion rubles ($2.9 billion) in damages and a permanent ban on Twitch in Russia.

The damages are significant, although it sounds like Rambler will have some real work ahead proving them, as it will apparently have to prove each of the violations individually—and even if it does, collecting on a judgment against a US-based company will be challenging. 

For Russian gamers, though, a block of the service could be far more damaging. Haji Makhtiev, founder of the Russian gaming media company Kanobu, told the site that Twitch and YouTube are the primary "place[s] of socialization" online for gamers, and that if Twitch loses the case, YouTube will also "fall under attack." co-founder Dmitry Navosha agreed, saying, "If Twitch is blocked, then we are one step away from blocking YouTube." 

Navosha also expressed hope that Twitch will take the matter more seriously than French video sharing platform DailyMotion, which has been blocked in Russia since early 2017. That block, according to TorrentFreak, was put in place after the company failed to adequately respond to copyright infringement complaints filed by Gazprom Media.

A Twitch rep told Kommersant that it "only provides users with access to the platform, does not post its own content, cannot change the content posted by users, or track possible violations of rights." It also claims that it was not provided with any detailed claims of infringement by Rambler, but had only been given "screenshots of pages ... without specific dates."