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Full majors v vKontakte ruling published: both sides still claiming victory

By | Published on Thursday 8 October 2015


Both sides continue to claim victory in the previously reported mixed-bag ruling in the legal battle between the major record companies and Russian social network vKontakte.

As noted, this is possible because while the St Petersburg court did tell the social media firm to ramp up its anti-piracy systems (a win for the labels) it didn’t award the rights owners any damages for past infringement (a win for the social network).

The full ruling has now been published, and various reasons have been given for why the court rejected the claims for damages made by Universal Music and Warner Music.

These include vKontakte not being aware of the infringing content being distributed on its network. Although presumably that means the specific infringements raised in the litigation, given that the labels have been banging on about the distribution of unlicensed content on the social network for ages, so it couldn’t have been blind to the general problem.

However, the court said that the labels didn’t sufficiently engage with vKontakte about the specific content listed in their complaints before going legal. They also failed to identify actual precise infringements of the tracks they sued over.

With all that in mind, vKontakte reckons it was the winner in this court battle, not least because it says it has already introduced the extra anti-piracy tools the court has also requested. The firm’s boss Boris Dobrodeev said: “We are pleased that the court has ruled in our favour and are satisfied with the content of today’s legal reasoning. The court’s findings confirm the lack of basis of the applicants’ claims and back up our position that we have taken throughout the case”.

He went on: “We will continue to establish constructive dialogue with the record companies and look to agree mutually beneficial terms for co-operation. With regard to the system to prevent the repeated uploading of deleted content, vKontakte has already developed and implemented a digital fingerprint system. The technology is in operation and we continue to improve it on an ongoing basis”.

But speaking for the labels, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry insisted vKontakte still had work to do to meet its anti-piracy commitments.

The CEO there, Frances Moore, said: “The written judgment has confirmed the court’s finding that VK must implement effective technology to stop infringements on its service. The court states clearly that VK’s technology is not effective, and we know this to be the case because of the mass infringement occurring on the service on a daily basis. While in its statement on the judgment VK has focused on other details in the decision, the most significant point for music companies is that VK is now required to put in place a comprehensive system to stop infringement. For the music industry this far outweighs any other aspect of the decision”.