Universal Music and Warner Music had brought copyright infringement cases against VK in April 2014. The judge issued an oral decision on 28th September, and the full judgments will be handed down in due course.
The court granted the record companies’ request to require VK to use effective technology to prevent the upload of their sound recordings to its service, meaning that VK must remove the record companies’ recordings and prevent them from being uploaded again in the future.
IFPI Chief Executive Officer Frances Moore welcomed the judgment: “This is a very important and positive decision for the Russian music market and for music creators in Russia. VK’s infringing music service has been a huge obstacle to the development of a licensed business in Russia, making available hundreds of thousands of copyright infringing tracks to more than 70 million daily users. Now, the Russian court has ordered VK to use technology to stop infringements. This is good news for rights holders in Russia. We now look to VK to implement the court’s decision and stop these ongoing infringements.”
Contacts for further information:
Elena Terrova, Mikhailov and Partners +7 926 766 0438
Landline: Tel: +7 (495) 956 39 72 ext. 1160
Adrian Strain or Alex Jacob, IFPI
Tel: +44 (0)20 7878 7935 (press office)
Background for Media
Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK filed legal proceedings against vKontakte (VK) in April 2014 for operating a music service that infringes copyright on a large scale. The evidence in the cases was heard at the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court. For the announcement made by IFPI at the time of the launch of proceedings go here http://www.ifpi.org/news/Record-companies-file-legal-proceedings-against-vKontakte
The legal action was coordinated by IFPI, the organisation representing the recording industry worldwide. It was supported by the music industry association in Russia, the national Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI).
VK has created a huge digital library of unlicensed sound recordings on vk.com which is designed to enable the searching and streaming of copyright-infringing music tracks. In particular, VK advertises the availability of infringing tracks through its charts of the most downloaded tracks and its recommendation service to individual users. This leaves no doubt that VK is operating a sophisticated infringing music service designed to attract users to its site.
The very substantial infringements occurring via VK’s music service and its failure to take effective action to prevent it include the following:
- The massive scale of infringement on VK. 98% of the claimants' top hits featuring in the Top 40 UK chart from the past seven years are available on VK's unauthorised music service.
- Music is driving traffic for VK. A study from Russian market research agency (WCIOM) found that 91.6 per cent of respondents said they have listened to music on VK. 44.1 per cent of total respondents to the survey indicated that if the VK music service stopped functioning they would spend less time on VK. More than 10 per cent of the respondents said that they would stop using VK altogether.
- Any technological measures used to prevent infringement by VK are inadequate. VK claims to takes timely steps to remove infringing content from its site after receiving complaints from right holders, and it claims that it uses a filtering system to prevent infringement. However, the authors of the Higher School of Economics report examined this claim and found that if VK has implemented a filtering system, it is inadequate. The court seems to have agreed and has ordered VK to implement effective technical measures to prevent sound recordings being uploaded to VK without the record companies’ authorisation.
- VK is aware and should effectively stop infringement. A legal expert report by the St Petersburg State University of Economics concludes, among other things, that VK must be fully aware of the scale of infringement taking place on the VK site, and it would be appropriate under Russian law for VK to be ordered to implement effective technological measures to prevent copyright infringement. The court has now made that order.