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Tue, 10 Dec 2019

Russia Blocks All Of Shutterstock Due To 'Offensive' Image Involving The Russian Flag
Furnished content.

We've talked quite a bit over the years about Rozcomnadzor, the Russian agency in charge of policing the internet for copyright infringing content... and really anything else that the Russian government decides it doesn't like. The agency operates exactly as deftly as you would expect, routinely blocking entire sites that are in regular use in Russia over a tiny percentage of "illicit" use. The problem, of course, is that Rozcomnadzor often interprets "illicit" uses of the internet to mean embarrassing public Russian figures with ties to the government, criticizing the government itself, or using basic internet security tools such as VPN to keep the Russian government out of one's internet use. This makes it all the more infuriating that American groups such as the MPAA have happily signed on with the Russian agency in an effort to protect copyright content, despite the agency's more widespread aims.It keeps happening. Recently, stock photo site Shutterstock -- all of it -- suddenly appeared on the Russia banned sites list. You might be assuming that this is a copyright issue, but it isn't.

However, those who visit the URL detailed at the top of the notice will find what appears to be an image of a Russian flag placed in the middle of a pile of excrement. Russian authorities do not take kindly to their national symbols depicted in such a fashion and have laws in place to prevent it.As a result, Russian ISPs are now blocking two Shutterstock-related IP addresses (one in Germany, one in the Netherlands) which are both operated by cloud company Akamai. Whether other sites using the same IP addresses are also being affected is currently unclear.For good measure, Russia is also targeting the image.shutterstock.com domain. As highlighted by Russian digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, which first reported the news, this is particularly problematic since rather than tackling just a single URL, a whole HTTPS subdomain is in the register.
As a recap, because the Russian government is upset over someone putting an image online of the Russian flag in less than flattering circumstances, Shutterstock's domain is blocked nationwide. This is about where I'd like to ping the MPAA and ask again about its support of Rozcomnadzor. After all, the MPAA signed on with the Russian agency over a concern on copyright protection, ostensibly so that creative types could sell their wares to legitimate buyers. With this overreaction of a site-wide block of Shutterstock, a whole bunch of stock photo artists have suddenly lost their ability to sell their creative works.One also wonders just how long this can go on without a massive reaction by the internet-using Russian public. After all, with these massive overblocks, eventually the Russian government will run out of internet to deprive of its citizens.

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