Digital Legal

IFPI welcomes latest vKontakte ruling, relaunches Pro-Music site

By | Published on Friday 12 October 2012


The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has welcomed the latest ruling in the Russian courts over the operations of social networking firm vKontakte, which the record industry has accused of copyright infringement for enabling users to share unlicensed music files.

As previously reported, vKontakte is very similar to Facebook, down to its design, colour scheme and many of the social networking tools it offers (indeed, some might call it a straight Facebook rip off), and is big news in Russia and neighbouring countries, where it boasts 110 million registered customers and 33 million users daily.

The site has been criticised by both local and international music companies for allegedly facilitating and encouraging the sharing, streaming and downloading of unlicensed music files over its platform. But when sued on the issue by Russian music companies SBA Publishing and SBA Production, vKontakte countered that it had no control over the actions of its customers, that it warned users against copyright infringement, and that it had offered to hand over the personal details of users who uploaded unlicensed music.

Nevertheless, SBA won its legal action, both at first instance and on appeal in May, and now the Arbitration Court Of St Petersburg And Leningrad has ordered vKontakte to pay damages of 550,000 roubles (about £11,000). Welcoming that decision, Frances Moore of IFPI told CMU: “This ruling once again confirms that vKontakte is operating illegally by facilitating the distribution of unlicensed music. The company needs to take effective steps to address the persistent and large-scale infringement it is enabling to take place on its platform”.

The latest ruling in the vKontakte case came as the global record industry trade body relaunched its website, which provides links to licensed music services around the world and guidance on copyright issues, with the aim of educating consumers in how to access music online without infringing anyone’s copyrights.

On the revamped Pro-Music site, Moore added: “Pro-Music is a great illustration of the enormous range of choice that is now available to music fans – from downloads to streaming, from subscription services to music video, and all across myriad devices. The Pro-Music site aims to be an easy-to-use first port of call for anyone wanting to find licensed music sites and learn more about digital music. When Pro-Music first launched in 2003, digital was a small part of our sector and limited to a small handful of countries – today it is the beating heart of our business across the world”.