Russian court sets September 28 hearing on copyright infringement suit against VK
MOSCOW, July 29 (RAPSI) – The Commercial Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region will hear lawsuits filed by Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK against Russia's top social network VKontakte on September 28.
The recording companies request that VKontakte, known as VK, remove pirated music and pay 31 million rubles ($518,000) in damages.
The lawsuits provide the list of performers on whose behalf the music companies have filed a petition to delete the pirated files. The National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI), which represents the rights holders’ interests, has supported the complaint, which is being coordinated by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore said a year ago: “For the successful development of the music industry in Russia, it is necessary that digital partners implement licensing regulations to comply with the related copyrights and pay the fees due to performers and producers for their work and investment.”
She also said that unlike other Russian music services, VK manages a service of unlicensed music that contains a huge library of music tracks stored on the company’s website, which allows the large-scale violation of copyright and other related laws.
On July 27, the Commercial Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region approved an out-of-court agreement between Sony Music Russia and VK worth 15.6 million rubles ($259,000).
Sony Music has become the first large foreign company with which VK has found common ground, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Tuesday. Having settled their dispute, Sony Music and VKontakte have agreed to legalize music that is streamed by the social network.
Sony Music has signed a contract to this effect, but not with VKontakte or its main shareholder, Mail.ru Group. It signed the contract with Oleg Butenko’s United Music Agency (UMA). Butenko is the former director of MegaLabs, a MegaFon subsidiary, which is controlled by Alisher Usmanov’s USM Holding. USM Holding also controls Mail.ru Group.
As previously reported, VKontakte would gradually modernize its music service by introducing commercial services. Music services for smartphones will be accessible for a fee, while music streamed via computers will be available for free but will include commercials.
Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music sued VKontakte in the spring of 2014 claiming that it streamed pirated music and demanded the removal of the infringing music and 50 million rubles ($830,000) in damages.