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vKontakte found guilty of unlicensed music distribution

Tom Pakinkis
Piracy

The IFPI has welcomed the final court ruling ruling that social network vKontakte is guilty of distributing unlicensed music on its website. 

The Russian Supreme Commercial Court refused to hear an appeal by vKontakte against lower court hearings on November 8 leaving no scope for further appeals. 

That means that the findings against vKontakte by Russia’s St. Petersburg Court of Appeals and the Federal Court of Cassation have been upheld.

“This is the latest of several court decisions against vKontakte in recent months, and it sends a clear message from the highest Russian court that the company must change its ways and take several steps to stop these infringements and respect intellectual property rights,” said IFPI CEO Frances Moore.

“Russia can have a thriving modern music industry and be a major world market if it can stop services like vKontakte from infringing the rights of artists and producers and violating Russian law. The government has a key role to play, and we hope it will exert is influence to make sure vKontakte stops infringing.”

The case against vKontakte was initially brought by SBA Music Publishing and SBA Production, members of the Gala Music Group in Russia.

The cases were based on vKontakte making available a number of Gala’s music compositions and sound recordings without licensing agreements. 

vKontakte is Russia’s most popular online entertainment platform. It has over 110 million registered users, over 33 million users per day and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world, attracting more traffic than BBC Online or CNN.com.

vKontakte itself claims to be responsible for more than half of all internet traffic in CIS countries. The unlicensed vKontakte music service allows on-demand streaming of music from an extensive catalogue of Russian and international sound recordings and encourages software developers to create apps for illegal downloading of content via vKontakte.

Russia is now one of Europe's biggest online markets. vKontakte is a business valued at between US$1.5 and US$3 billion, and it is built on the back of content which it is not licensed to use.

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Tags: Piracy, Digital, IFPI, online, Copyright Infringement, vKontakte

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