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Russia Mulls Putting ISPs on the Hook for Piracy

Russia is considering holding ISPs responsible for unlawful file-sharing, Giga OM reported Wednesday.

From Giga OM:

Reports in the local media say that the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is looking to bring in fresh laws that would make service providers responsible for illegal file-sharing between those using their networks.

In general, those providers accused of assisting infringement have argued that they are merely dumb pipes that push data around without discrimination.

Other nations — most notably Germany and Australia — have ruled that ISPs are not liable when it comes to file-sharing.

Deserved or not, Russia has earned a reputation as a cesspool of intellectual property infringement. In January, The New York Times ran an article about how file-sharing sites often seek refuge in Russia when their America-based URLs are disabled. More recently, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents music labels around the world, claimed that a Russian equivalent to Facebook was “holding back” the digital music industry.

Netflix App Opens Markets

Netflix is coming out with an international version of the Netflix app for Windows Phone. The app will increase the number of devices on which Netflix runs in Latin America, Ireland and the UK.

The new app will boast all the features of other Netflix apps — watching over WiFi and 3G connections, subtitles, localized language support — so long as you’re in a country where Netflix is available, according to an article from The Next Web.

The Next Web quoted Greg Peters, vice president of product development at Netflix:

“Existing Netflix members in the UK, Ireland and Latin America now have greater flexibility than ever in enjoying Netflix wherever and whenever they want.”

The new app is the next step in Netflix’s recent international expansion. Last September the company launched streaming services in Latin America, and it hit the UK and Ireland in January.

TomTom Applies Itself

TomTom has received an iOS update that will enhance the navigation tool’s capabilities.

One noteworthy change is that users will be able to integrate TomTom with Facebook and Twitter. TomTom users will be able to view upcoming Facebook events through TomTom, which will then map out routes to the events, according to Cnet.

The iOS update also includes a feature called TomTom Places. Ireland-based outlet Silicon Republic quoted Gerard Hinds, TomTom’s mobile director, saying:

“For example, if you searched for ‘bread’ via a normal search engine, you’d be given recipes. However, search with TomTom Places, and you’ll find a variety of places in the local area where you can actually buy bread.”

The TomTom Places database consists of 10 million locations and works in Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands, according to Silicon Republic.

Google’s DoubleClick Launches in China

Google on Tuesday announced that its “DoubleClick Ad Exchange” is now available in China, according to

DoubleClick, which Google acquired in 2008, helps users target audiences based on demographics, interests and other relevant information.

The company’s contentious relationship with China has prevented the service from penetrating the Middle Kingdom thus far. But on Tuesday, Google China’s David Chen hailed DoubleClick’s launch as

a step towards creating a more open display advertising ecosystem for everyone. The Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace that helps large online publishers on one side; and ad networks and agency networks on the other, buy and sell display advertising space.

About Those Social Media Rumors …

It’s been a wild few weeks for social media in China.

First the government disabled the comment function on the nation’s two biggest micro-blogging platforms — and took down a handful of websites — amid rumors of a coup. Those rumors reportedly started in mid-March, after the ouster of Communist Party chief Bo Xilai.

After that, a series of newspaper editorialsissued unwavering support for a “real name” system that would require identification to use social media.

Then on Tuesday: News broke that Bo has been stripped of his position and that his wife was a suspect in the murder of a British businessman, causing another raucous on the nation’s social media platforms.

According to The Wall Street Journal,

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency and the country’s state broadcaster reported the events simultaneously at 11 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Sina Weibo [similar to Twitter] published the Xinhua item on its official newsfeed in a post that was reposted nearly 50,000 times in its first 15 minutes.

The Journal reported that representatives of Chinese social media sites and search engine giant Baidu had vowed to work with the government to fight the spread of rumors.

Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. Follow him on Twitter @davidvranicar.

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