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Russia Vows to Ban Most Popular Torrent Sites

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Roskomnadzor, which regulates the Russian telecom and media industries, has decided to permanently block the country's 15 most popular torrent sites next year in a move to crack down on piracy.

It's unclear which sites will be blocked in Russia, however some of the more popular destinations worldwide include KickAss Torrents, ExtraTorrent and Yify Torrents. As is typically the case in places where torrent sites are blocked, proxy sites emerge to feature the same content but on different, regulator-evading domains.

Kremlin Cracks Down on Internet in Russia, But Sites Are Finding Loopholes

According to Roskomnadzor's research, an entry of proxies for permanently blocked sites won't matter because "95% of people [in Russia] do not use tools to bypass locks."

To get a quick idea as to why users love torrents, the agency posted a poll online. With 37 percent, voters said they use the sites because they "do not want to pay." Right behind at 36 percent was "other reasons" like lack of access through legal channels. At 17 percent, people said they simply "do not know where to buy" legal versions. Only 10 percent of respondents said they don't use torrents.


Agency head Alexander Zharov is quoted on Twitter saying "online video services and the government needs to develop a culture of legal consumption of premium content among citizens," later adding, "in the current economic situation it is necessary to find a balance in which the content will be available, and the price will match the quality."

The move by Roskomanadzor comes a week after one of Russia's oldest legitimate online music services decided to suspend operations due to online piracy. Muz.ru, which launched in 2008, said the download aspect of its website will be put on hold "until the economic situation and legal conditions improve."