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Universal could be close to deal with vKontakte

By | Published on Friday 15 July 2016


Universal Music is reportedly close to signing on the dotted line with Russian social network vKontakte, which would mean the music industry’s long running war with the social media firm would be officially at an end.

vKontakte was a contender for enemy number one amongst record companies for a while because of it’s habit of turning a blind eye to the rampant copyright infringement that occurs over its networks. At various points the Russian company insisted it was cracking down on piracy on its platform and/or plotting a legitimate music service, though the labels weren’t initially very impressed with vKontakte’s record in following through on those promises.

To the extent that in 2014 all three major record companies sued the social media business, though the music firms didn’t fair as well as they hoped when the case got to the Russian courts. Actually, Sony had already settled by that point, and while Universal vowed to continue pursuing its action through the appeal courts, Warner also reached an agreement with vKontakte back in April.

Since then, vKontakte has launched a new music app that actually provides the much previously touted subscription service that could turn those accessing music illegally via the social network into legit consumers. As that launched there were rumours that Universal was close to a deal with the Russian firm too, but then the major filed new papers in its ongoing litigation with the social networking outfit.

But according to sources who have spoken to the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, the licensing talks have been ongoing ever since and a deal could now be signed in the next few days. It is thought that the labels may have given vKontakte time to get their music app off the ground before fully clamping down on the illegal distribution of music on the firm’s social network, though the majors should still see multi-million dollar cash advances as part of that arrangement.