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Universal files new appeal in vKontakte litigation

By | Published on Wednesday 18 May 2016


Often controversial Russian social network vKontakte may have launched a legit music app, but Universal Music hasn’t yet given up the fight against the social media firm.

As much previously reported, at one point vKontakte faced litigation from all three major record companies over allegations it facilitates rampant copyright infringement across its networks. Although a few local music firms have had some success in court when accusing vKontakte of similar things, the majors have generally not faired so well.

Sony had actually done a deal with the social media firm before the matter got properly to court, but Warner and Universal fought on. The initial ruling on the lawsuits was a bit of a mixed bag, with the courts denying the two majors the damages they thought they were due for all the music piracy committed over vKontatke’s servers, but judges did demand that the social network do more to combat infringement on its platform. On appeal, the courts backtracked on the latter part of the judgement.

Then came Warner’s settlement with vKontakte, and subsequently the news of the music app, a subscription service – price-point TBC – with Sony, Warner and local label content included. It’s thought that as part of its licensing arrangements for that app, vKontakte has made certain commitments to crack down on the illegal distribution of music across its social network, though quite how quickly that work will kick in isn’t yet clear.

There was talk of Universal being close to signing up to the subscription service as well, but now the mega-major has filed another appeal in its ongoing litigation with the social media business. It’s not clear if the record company will again be pushing for both damages and tougher anti-piracy measures, though you’d expect so.

It’s also not clear what the extension of Universal’s litigation means for vKontakte’s other plans in music, though it could all be a tactic to strengthen the former’s negotiating hand in any deal-making over the app, even though the social network has generally enjoyed more success in court to date.