The IFPI today welcomed the latest in a series of rulings by Russian courts against vKontakte, the country’s social networking site which facilitates the mass distribution of copyright infringing music.
The Arbitration Court of St Petersburg and Leningrad this week ordered vKontakte to pay damages of 550,000 roubles (€13,718) to SBA Gala Records, an independent Russian record label and licensed distributor for EMI Music’s international repertoire, for its role in facilitating the illegal distribution of 11 unlicensed sound recordings online.
Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, said: “This ruling once again confirms that vKontakte is operating illegally by facilitating the distribution of unlicensed music. The company needs to take effective steps to address the persistent and large-scale infringement it is enabling to take place on its platform.”
vKontakte enables any user to upload files containing copyright infringing music to its social networking platform, then offers its other users the opportunity to search for the tracks and the ability to stream them, and download them using apps and browser extensions.
vKontakte is Russia’s most popular online entertainment platform with more than 110 million registered users and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world, attracting more traffic than BBC Online or CNN.com.
Internet Copyright Management reports that vKontakte attracts 50% of pirated traffic on the internet in Russia and hosts 77 per cent of pirated files found in the country.
The Russian recorded music market has declined rapidly in value over recent years, falling from US$191 million in 2007 to just US$76.6 million in 2011. There are 11 diverse licensed digital music services, from download stores to subscription offerings, accounting for 26 per cent of industry revenues.
A full list of licensed services can be found at www.pro-music.org. These services have not developed to their full potential because of the widespread availability of unlicensed music, made available by illegal services such as vKontakte.