Russian firm sues Twitch for £2.1bn following illegal streams of premier league football matches

A Russian tech firm is suing Twitch for 180bn roubles (£2.1bn) for allegedly broadcasting pirated streams of premier league matches. 

According to the BBC, Russian Rambler Group says its exclusivity deal for the rights to broadcast the matches in Russia were breached by the streaming service more than 36,000 times between August and November 2019. Consequently, it’s seeking an injunction to permanently ban Twitch from broadcasting in Russia.

“Our suit against Twitch is to defend our exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League matches and we will continue to actively combat pirate broadcasts,” Mikhail Gershkovich, head of Rambler Group’s sports project, said in a statement. “The service has given us tools to combat pirate broadcasts and we are now only talking about compensation for damages between August and November.”

In response, Twitch’s lawyer has deemed Rambler’s case “unfounded” and insists the streaming service took “all necessary measures to eliminate the violations, despite not receiving any official notification from Rambler”. It also says in its terms and conditions that users can only share content with permission from the copyright owners, including films, television programmes and sports matches.

Twitch “only provides users with access to the platform and is unable to change the content posted by users, or track possible violations,” lawyer Julianna Tabastaeva told Russian-language news website Kommersant.

Russia is reportedly the third-largest user of Twitch. The case will be heard on Friday, December 20th, 2019, and until then, the courts have ordered a temporary suspension of English Premier League streams on Twitch.

Non-gaming content is rapidly growing on Twitch – to the extent that it is outperforming the growth of the platform itself, according to StreamElements’ Q3 State of the Stream report.

Twitch’s ‘Just Chatting’ category, intended for conversations between streamers and viewers with no requirement for video game content, has grown 36 per cent based on views since its launch in September 2018 – outpacing Twitch’s growth rate as a whole, growing four times as fast. In fact, ‘Just Chatting’ is the only category this year to consistently increase in hours watched quarter over quarter.

Speaking about the remarkable growth of non-gaming content on Twitch, StreamElements CEO Doron Nir stated at the time: “This is significant because it shows where Twitch is heading and opens the door to more non-endemic brands given that influencers who use the category are more conversational and provide more opportunities not tethered to game play.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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