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Controversial Russian social network reaches ‘goodwill agreement’ with Sony Music

By | Published on Wednesday 29 July 2015


Often controversial – in music industry circles, at least – Russian social networking giant and Facebook clone vKontakte has signed a ‘goodwill agreement’ with Sony Music which means, well, who knows what, lots of goodwill will be flowing between the two parties presumably. Enough, it would seem, to halt the major’s legal action against the social network.

As previously reported, both the domestic music industry in Russia, and international labels and record industry trade groups, have hit out at vKontakte for allowing people to share music without licence across its networks.

For its part, the social networking firm has made various gestures over the years towards halting the file-sharing and introducing some sort of licensed music service on its platform, but none of that stopped the three major music companies from filing separate litigation against vKontakte in the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court last year. Those cases were due to be considered by the court this week.

But the Sony lawsuit, at least, has now seemingly been withdrawn because of the aforementioned ‘goodwill agreement’. vKontakte confirmed to Billboard that an agreement had now been made with Sony, though there were few details as to what that agreement says, and whether it is a stepping stone towards the social media business becoming a legit music provider. Though local media reports reckon it is.

Despite past acrimony, vKontakte could be a useful partner for the labels in the Russian market if it could get a licensed royalty-paying streaming music service off the ground, Spotify having bailed on the country back in February.

Though it remains to be seen whether similar exchanges of goodwill are incoming between the social network and Warner and Universal Music. The same court considering those two lawsuits this week recently ruled against vKontakte in a legal battle with a Russian record company, which might be partly behind the social media firm’s current goodwill frenzy.