Russian social network vKontakte (VK) has been ordered by a Russian court to use effective technology to prevent copyright infringement of the recordings of two record companies.
The IFPI say that the ruling, handed down in the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court on Monday, is a significant judgment which, when implemented, should improve the environment for developing a thriving licensed music business in Russia. The IFPI is the organisation that represents the global recording industry. It was supported by the Russian National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI).
Universal Music and Warner Music had brought copyright infringement cases against VK in April 2014. The judge issued an oral decision on 28th September, and the full judgments will be handed down in due course.
The court granted the record companies’ request to require VK to use effective technology to prevent the upload of their sound recordings to its service, meaning that VK must remove the record companies’ recordings and prevent them from being uploaded again in the future. The claimaints said 98% of their sound trecordings featuring in the Top 40 UK chart from the past seven years are available on VK's unauthorised music service, and whilst VK did have a take down procedure, VK's filtering technology, which was meant to prevent unauthorised uploads, was inadequate and ineffective. The claimants presented expert evidence that VK must be fully aware of the scale of the infringement, not least as VK advertised the availability of infringing tracks through its charts of the 'most downloaded' tracks and its recommendation service to individual users.
VKontakte and Sony Music Russia agreed a confidential global settlement in July 2015.
IFPI Chief Executive Officer Frances Moore welcomed the judgment saying: “This is a very important and positive decision for the Russian music market and for music creators in Russia. VK’s infringing music service has been a huge obstacle to the development of a licensed business in Russia, making available hundreds of thousands of copyright infringing tracks to more than 70 million daily users. Now, the Russian court has ordered VK to use technology to stop infringements. This is good news for rights holders in Russia. We now look to VK to implement the court’s decision and stop these ongoing infringements.”
vKontakte spokesperson Georgy Lobushkin told Billboard: “We are glad that the court supported our position and has declined to impose fines on VK. The court has also ordered that we make our ‘music copyright DMCA technology’ more effective, and we are constantly working on that”. he also criticised the IFPI for commenting “on the judgement in the most advantageous way for themselves” before the final ruling had even been published.
Record companies file legal proceedings against vKontakte for deliberately facilitating piracy on a large scale
VK's press release on the final court decision can be found here: VKontakte Cleared in Dispute with Warner and Universal