vKontakte in talks with majors

By | Published on Thursday 11 July 2013


After fighting, unsuccessfully, litigation from Russian music company SBA, and having finally gotten round to removing unlicensed music files from its platform, Russia-based social networking firm vKontakte is now reportedly in talks with the majors in a bid to work out a deal that will allow tracks to be shared and distributed over the social media site legally.

The boss of vKontakte, Pavel Durov, has told Russian business paper Vedomosti that talks are now ongoing to see if his company can find a way to allow its users to continue to access music in the ways they have become accustomed to via his social network, while accommodating the requirements of the rights owners. He concludes “in the next few months we’ll see some positive changes in this area”.

When first criticised by the record industry for enabling the rampant distribution of unlicensed content, Durov’s company initially rolled out the classic “it’s our users to blame” line that has been heard many times before, but which rarely stands up in court.

The social networking set-up – which is basically a Facebook rip off – also insisted that it removed unlicensed files if made aware of them, in line with US copyright law. Local labels and publishers were dubious of this claim, though in recent weeks – following the SBA court ruling and moves in Russian political circles to step up copyright protection rules – unlicensed content has been disappearing from the social network.

Legend has it that Spotify’s Daniel Ek once reached out to Durov about forming an alliance in the country, but the vKontakte chief wasn’t interested, arguing his network already provided access to more songs than Ek’s streaming service offered. Though now Durov is thinking about paying to offer that content, and facing the challenge of how to make that work commercially, he might regret not working with Ek et al.