Digital Legal

IFPI welcomes appeals ruling over file-sharing via Russian Facebook

By | Published on Monday 21 May 2012


The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has welcomed a ruling in the Russian appeal courts which upholds a previous judgement regards the sharing of music over the Russian social networking website vKontakte. In January a lower Russian court said vKontakte did not do enough to stop its users sharing unlicensed music files, and was therefore liable for the copyright infringement its network enabled.

As previously reported, vKontakte is very similar to Facebook, down to its design, colour scheme and many of the social networking tools it offers (indeed, some might call it a straight Facebook rip off), and is big news in Russia and neighbouring countries, where it boasts 110 million registered customers and 33 million users daily.

A number of Western and Russian music companies have criticised vKontakte’s role in facilitating file-sharing, and two sued. The owners of the social networking company insisted they had no control over the actions of their customers, that they published warnings against infringement, and had offered to provide rights owners with the contact details of any users who uploaded unlicensed music. But in January the commercial courts in St Petersburg said that wasn’t enough, and last week an appeals court reached the same conclusion.

Welcoming the appeal ruling, IFPI boss Frances Moore told CMU: “This judgment sends a clear signal to those in Russia that seek to build their businesses on the back of other people’s content. We urge vKontakte to take immediate steps to stop its service being used to infringe copyright on a massive scale. Widespread digital piracy is preventing Russia from developing a thriving legitimate digital music sector and this in turn denies Russian artists a chance of success and starves them of investment by producers”.