Record labels take action over VK.com ‘piracy’

03-04-2014

Record labels take action over VK.com ‘piracy’

Photo: Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock.com

Russian social network VK.com is facing legal action from three record companies that claim the service “deliberately” facilitates piracy on a large scale.

Sony Music Russia, Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK filed separate lawsuits yesterday, April 3, at the Saint Petersburg and Leningradsky Region Arbitration Courts.

The legal action has been coordinated by the IFPI, a non-profit group representing the recording industry.

The companies claim that VK, which provides a file-sharing service on its site, provides a “huge” library of copyright-infringing tracks. They want the service to remove content that copies a “sample” of artists, as well as compensation worth RUB 50 million ($1.4 million).

In addition, the companies want VK to implement “effective” industry measures including audio fingerprinting, to prevent the unauthorised re-uploading of content.

Francis Moore, chief executive of the IFPI, said the action followed repeated attempts to persuade VK to tackle copyright infringement.

“We have encouraged VK to cease its infringements and negotiate with record companies to become a licensed service. To date the company has taken no meaningful steps to tackle the problem, so legal proceedings are being commenced.

“VK's music service, unlike others in Russia, is an unlicensed file-sharing service that is designed for copyright infringement on a large scale,” he said.

VK does allow copyright owners to request the blocking or removal of infringing content, however.

The service is Russia’s most popular social network, with more than 88 million users from the country and 143 million overall. While it functions like Facebook, it also allows users to upload and store music and video files that can be searched and streamed by other users.

The litigation comes despite efforts to scan for pirated content on VK. In August last year, online anti-piracy company Muso struck a deal with VK to scan the site for illegal files. Muso, based in London and Los Angeles, also agreed to notify rights owners when their work is uploaded illegally.

In 2013, Russian music revenues totalled RUB 2.2 billion ($62 million), compared with $5.9 billion worldwide, according to the IFPI.

This article was first published on 2 April 2014 in World IP Review

vk.com, Sony Music Russia, Universal Music Russia, Warner Music UK, the ifpi, piracy

Trademarks and Brands Online