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Twitch sued for over $2.8 billion by major Russian media company

by Brad Norton
esa / Institute of Modern Russia

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A lawsuit against Twitch has been issued by Rambler Group, a Russian media company seeking over $2.8 billion in damages following a violation of exclusive distribution rights. 

Twitch is primarily known for housing some of the biggest content creators and internet personalities around the world. However, the streaming platform has expanded its coverage of late to include all manner of physical sporting broadcasts such as NFL’s Thursday Night Football for instance.

A recent incident involving a violation of exclusive English Premier League distribution rights in Russia, has resulted in a roughly $2.84 billion lawsuit. 

The Moscow Times
The Moscow Times
Rambled Media Group was established in 2013.

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Rambler Group purchased exclusive digital distribution rights of the English Premier League in 2019 with a duration of three seasons. The deal allegedly cost €7 million and means that any Russian fan wishing to view the games will need to go through a Rambler-owned streaming platform.

The controversy stems from select Twitch streamers broadcasting English Premier League games in Russia, directly violating the exclusive rights of Rambler Group.

According to screenshots provided by Rambler, 36,000 viewers tuned into various games on a number of streams, which ultimately led to a claim of copyright infringement.

Initially, Rambler demanded Twitch be banned from Russia entirely. However, a secondary demand was made which accumulated the maximum possible fine for each of the 36,000 viewers, equating to 180.345 billion rubles, or $2.84 billion USD.

Business Insider / Nick Bastone
Business Insider / Nick Bastone
The next court hearing for the Amazon-owned streaming platform is set for December 20.

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While Twitch never received an official complaint from Rambler prior to legal action, the streaming platform eventually removed a number of channels that were in direct violation. Streamers that had been caught distributing the content on their own channels were struck down and permanently banned from the platform.

However, the Russian media group seeks compensation for the damages already dealt and appears set on establishing new boundaries in the region, fighting the streaming giant every step of the way.

Given that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is not in effect throughout Russia, each case of supposed copyright infringement is treated uniquely and deliberated upon at length depending on its individual value. 

Courts of General Jurisdiction of the City of Moscow.
Courts of General Jurisdiction of the City of Moscow.
An overview of case information from the Courts of General Jurisdiction of the City of Moscow.

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Despite having been delayed for unknown reasons a total of four times already, a fifth hearing is in place for the conflicting parties to find common ground and reach a resolution.

There’s no telling whether the dispute will be settled swiftly, nor whether the billions will be paid out, but with a new court hearing set for December 20, conversations will be ongoing until an amicable solution is reached.