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Warner Music and Universal Win Case against Russia’s vKontakte
September 29, 2015
Amanda Marie
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Yesterday, a Russian court ordered vKontakte (VK), Russia’s largely popular social network, to improve its piracy takedown system, which was a huge win for Warner Music and Universal who filed lawsuits originally also with Sony Music against VK, to use stronger anti-piracy methods and stop allowing the sharing of infringing content across its networks.

Previously we reported in August of 2015, that although the music labels filed three separate cases originally, the court ruled that the case would be heard as one consolidated case, and not three. However, in July of this year, Sony Music reached a confidential settlement agreement with VK and withdrew their lawsuit leaving Warner Music and Universal to proceed without them in the copyright battle.

Following the ruling yesterday, IFPI chief executive Frances Moore, said that the ruling was good news for rights holders in Russia. "This is a very important and positive decision for the Russian music market and for music creators in Russia," he stated.

VK did sign a piracy agreement with the Russian Telecoms as a result of the lawsuits filed in April of 2014 by the three music companies, Sony Music Russia, Universal Music Russia & Warner Music UK. The plaintiffs sought a court order which would require VK to implement "effective industry-standard measures, such as audio fingerprinting," to prevent unauthorized sharing of the library content and to prevent unauthorized uploading of the companies’ catalogues. The lawsuits filed at that time included a claim for compensation of just over RUB 50 million (US $1.4 million) for the infringing content.

Now that VK is being forced to implement the required anti-piracy technology, the method in which they plan to do this remains unclear.

The site owners have made past references that they planned to go completely "legal" and obtain licenses with the music groups, but so far that hasn’t happened and this ruling may force them to do just that.

Their user base consists of many people who use the site mainly for the sound recordings, and not the social aspect of it. VK is considered the “Facebook” of Russia.

VK has been on the US Trade Representative's list of notorious markets for about five years already, and it’s not likely that they will come off that list any time soon.

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