As Twitch and streaming generally gains popularity around the world, users are going to share more and more things that you’d ordinarily see on other broadcast mediums. That’s now resulted in a lawsuit from a Russian firm, which has alleged that Twitch violated its exclusive rights to stream English Premier League games over 36,000 times over August and November.
Rambler Group, which owns the Russian search engine Rambler, is suing for $4.09 billion ($US2.82 billion) in damages in a Russian court, the BBC and Reuters reported on Tuesday morning. The case is filed in the Moscow District Court, which has blocked Twitch’s access to EPL broadcasts until the case is heard on December 20 (December 21 Australian time).
Mikhail Gershkovich, head of Ramblet Group’s sporting ventures, saying settlement talks have already begun. “We’re currently holding talks with Twitch to sign a settlement agreement. The service has given us tools to combat pirate broadcasts and we are now only talking about compensation for damages between August and November,” Reuters quoted Gershkovich as saying.
In a statement to the Russian Kommersant newspaper, Twitch’s counsel Julianna Tabastaeva said Rambler did not give Twitch “any official notification” of the copyright breaches, and that the service “is unable to change the content posted by users, or track possible violations”.
The case has particular importance because of Russia’s affinity towards Twitch. As of December last year, Statista ranked Russia as the third most popular country for Twitch viewership, accounting for just over 6.3 percent of the viewerbase (and only fractionally behind Germany). With around 15 million daily active users worldwide, it means Russia accounts for more than 900,000 of Twitch’s daily active user base.
The case has parallels with Dailymotion, which was blocked by Russian courts in early 2017. Copyright holders in Russia filed complaints against the site, but after failing to respond to complaints about repeated violations, Dailymotion was permanently banned in Russia. The site was the third largest video hosting service behind Vimeo and YouTube at the time. It is now 8th with YouTube, Twitch and Vimeo the three largest multilingual video hosting sites according to Alexa global rankings.