December 16, 2019 / 9:48 AM / 4 months ago

Russia blocks Premier League broadcasts by Amazon's Twitch over lawsuit

FILE PHOTO: A twitch sign-in screen is seen at the offices of Twitch Interactive Inc, a social video platform and gaming community owned by Amazon, in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 6, 2017. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court has blocked access to English Premier League game broadcasts by Amazon’s Twitch after Russia’s Rambler media group said it would sue the video streaming service over pirate broadcasts, the TASS news agency reported.

Rambler plans to sue Twitch for 180 billion roubles ($2.82 billion) in a Russian court for what it said were 36,000 cases in which Twitch had violated its rights to broadcast the soccer games, the Kommersant newspaper reported earlier on Monday.

The Moscow District Court said it planned to hear the case on Dec. 20. It said it had taken “interim measures” ahead of the hearing, but gave no further details.

Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Rambler confirmed its plans to sue Twitch for damages and said it was holding talks with the service over a possible settlement deal.

“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,” said Mikhail Gershkovich, head of Rambler Group’s sports projects.

“We’re currently holding talks with Twitch to sign a settlement agreement. The service has given us tools to combat pirate broadcasts and we are now only talking about compensation for damages between August and November,” he said.

The court said it was unable to comment on the size of the lawsuit.

“As regards the sum of the (suit), it was proposed by external lawyers who are running this case. The sum is technical and the maximum possible. It will be altered,” Gershkovich said.

Reporting by Nadezhda Tsydenova, Anton Kolodyazhnyy, Anton Zverev; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Jan Harvey

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