Alexander Mamut got into streaming

The Rambler Group is demanding record compensation from the American Twitch service.
Rambler Group of Alexander Mamut and Sberbank, which has become a defendant in the scandalous criminal case surrounding Nginx in recent days, has entered yet another high-profile anti-American process. It requires "stopping the spread of pirated broadcasts" and recover a record 180 billion rubles. (about $ 2.9 billion) from the world's largest streaming service Twitch. The company counted 36 thousand cases of violation of the rights to display matches of the English Premier League (Premier League) on football, which owns in Russia. Blocking Twitch could be a blow to the gaming industry and a signal for YouTube, market participants say.

On December 20, the Moscow City Court will consider the claim of Rambler Internet Holding LLC against Twitch Interactive. “Due to the fact that we detected a significant number of cases of illegal broadcasts on Twitch, we were forced to go to court with Twitch Interactive to stop the spread of pirated broadcasts,” Rambler Group sports project manager Mikhail Gershkovich confirmed to Kommersant. Claims include Twitch’s blocking in the Russian Federation and the recovery of compensation in the amount of RUB 180.345 billion, Yulianna Tabastaeva, a Twitch representative in court, told Kommersant. According to her, at the stage of filing a lawsuit in August, the holding demanded only a block, then a claim for compensation of € 2.1 million was declared (about 147 million rubles at the Central Bank rate), and the claim was 180 billion rubles. It was presented at the meeting on November 29.

Rambler confirmed that "the amount of claims is substantial", noting that the final compensation will be determined by the court, "based on the actually established circumstances." As the source of Kommersant explained, the amount of 180 billion rubles. formed as a result of a multiplication of the number of alleged illegal views on Twitch of nuclear submarine broadcasts - 36 thousand — by a maximum compensation amount of 5 million rubles. Rambler owns exclusive rights to display nuclear submarines in Russia. As Kommersant reported on April 11, the holding could pay € 7 million for the three seasons of the tournament.

Owned by Amazon, Twitch is the largest video streaming platform in the world and in Russia. According to Mediascope, the monthly audience of the resource among Russians over 12 years old in October 2019 was 4.8 million people. According to SimilarWeb, in the world in November the site was visited 611.4 million times.

The representative of Twitch insists that the requirements are unfair, the service "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." At the same time, Twitch took all necessary measures to eliminate violations, “despite the fact that Rambler did not send any official notifications, only screenshots of pages, and even those without specific dates,” Ms. Tabastaeva claims.

The amount of claims may be the largest in Russian judicial practice in this area, said Anatoly Semenov, an expert in the field of intellectual property rights. Russia has actually been found to have an “innocent responsibility” for everyone except information intermediaries, but it is unclear whether Twitch will be recognized as such, he adds. If Rambler really did not inform Twitch, that is, did not comply with the pre-trial order, then there is no mandatory element of the violation - informed guilt, the expert notes. The amount for the Russian market is “colossal”, agrees O2 Consulting partner Natalya Kuznetsova. To confirm it, Rambler will need to prove in court each of 36 thousand violations, screenshots may not be enough, the lawyer said. Even if the court takes the side of Rambler, the decision will not be easy to execute, given that the defendant is an American company.

Violations of Russian anti-piracy laws already turned into a blockage for foreign services - this happened in 2017 with one of the largest video hosting Dailymotion, which was blocked at the suit of the TV channel Pyatnitsa (Gazprom-Media). Twitch does not threaten perpetual blocking yet - it is possible only with repeated violation, Natalya Kuznetsova explains. The first lock is released after the violation has been resolved.

For Twitch, the Russian market is the third or fourth in terms of audience, which is about 6–7% of the total number of users; blocking will be a blow to the gaming industry, says the founder of Kanobu and Rawg, Haji Makhtiev. “Along with YouTube, this is the place of socialization of the millennials. If the court takes the side of Rambler, it is obvious that YouTube will come under attack, but with any blockages and prohibitions, it will not be possible to return young people to watching TV, ”Mr Makhtiev is sure. “If Twitch is blocked, then we are one step away from blocking YouTube,” agrees co-founder Dmitry Navosha. He hopes that the company will take the process more seriously than Dailymotion, and “will be able to prove that it is sufficiently helping copyright holders solve piracy problems.”

Anatoly Semenov notes that "the latest actions of Rambler are directed precisely against American companies and are in a sense paternalistic in nature." As Kommersant reported, on December 12, Rambler stated that it had exclusive rights to the Nginx web server developed by its former employee Igor Sysoev. Then it became known about the initiation of criminal proceedings and searches at Nginx (in March the American F5 Networks bought it for $ 670 million) at the request of Lynwood Investments CY Ltd, which represents the interests of the Rambler Group and is associated with Alexander Mamut.

How Russians found a revenue stream

The revenue of video content streamers in RuNet, most of which broadcast games, from donations from viewers grew by 62.8% in the first half of 2019, follows from data from DonationAlerts. According to expert estimates, this market can reach 1 billion rubles. in year. Already more than 60% of streamers monetize their activity - mainly through specialized donation services.