Russia is seeking to shed its image as a hub for pirated movies and become the next hot market for legal online video, a boon for local services trying to lure users before competitors such as Netflix (NFLX) Inc. enter the country.
Starting today, a law signed by President Vladimir Putin makes it harder for Russian websites to host illegal copies of movies or TV shows. The national communications regulator will start adding sites with such content onto a list of addresses that Internet-service providers must block.
While Netflix and Hulu LLC operate in a Web-video market worth billions of dollars in the U.S., the market in Russia, with a population topping 140 million, is just emerging. Movie services such as Ivi.ru are betting on a change in the behavior of Russian consumers used to watching pirated content on social-networking sites or through so-called torrent services.