Music piracy battle erupts in Russia as major labels sue large social network

Sony, Universal Music and Warner are going after vKontakte, alleging wholesale copyright infringement

Russia's vKontakte social network is stridently out of tune with copyright laws, according to three major record labels that are suing the company alleging it deliberately facilitates large-scale music piracy.

Sony Music Russia, Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK reached out several times to vKontakte in recent months but the alleged infringement continued, so they filed three separate lawsuits in the Saint Petersburg and Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court alleging violation of Russian copyright laws, according to IFPI, an organization that represents about 1,300 record companies worldwide and that is coordinating the legal challenge.

VKontakte describes itself on its website as the largest Russian social network with over a 100 million active users.

The site lets users upload and store music and video files and those songs and clips then become available for all users to add them to their own music libraries if they want, according to IFPI. The files can be found and shared by all users regardless of the privacy settings of the uploader, it added.

As a result, vKontakte contains a huge library of copyright-infringing tracks that are stored on its website and available to its millions of users, IFPI said.

The record labels want vKontakte to remove infringing works from its website and are asking the court to require that the website implement measures such as audio-fingerprinting to prevent unauthorized uploads of the labels' songs, IFPI said. The labels are also seeking just over 50 million rubles (US$1.4 million) in damages, it added.

The site lets copyright holders request the blocking or removal of infringing content, but it also can require that they obtain a court order before it complies with their request, making this process "heavily weighted towards the individual who uploaded the infringing material," IFPI said.

VKontakte also requires that copyright holders issue individual requests for each instance of infringement, making the process very time consuming, it added.

VKontakte did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

On its site, vKontakte states that it's not responsible for monitoring and determining the legality of content uploaded by its users.

"The Site Administration has no right to undertake the roles of law enforcement or judicial authorities and objectively cannot evaluate if particular Content on the Site is legal or illegal. If a dispute arises, the applicant is advised to seek help from law enforcement authorities and the court of law," the page states, advising copyright holders to contact individuals first before filing a complaint with the site's administration.

VKontakte has been found liable for copyright infringement before. In May 2012, the Saint Petersburg appeals court upheld an earlier ruling by the Commercial Court of Saint Petersburg that found vKontakte liable for copyright infringement due to unlicensed sharing of music from the Gala Records Music Group, which was acquired by Warner Music in 2013, according to IFPI. Later that year, the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Commercial Court refused to hear vKontakte's appeal to those rulings, it added.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags copyrightlegalintellectual propertyWarner Music UKvKontakteUniversal Music RussiaSony Music RussiaIFPI

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?