Russian Producers Demand Removal of Illegal Content from Social Networking Website

More than 500 titles were illegally uploaded by users.

MOSCOW -- The Russian association of television and movie producers is demanding from the country’s biggest social networking website Vkontakte, a local analogue of Facebook, to remove more than 500 movies and television shows uploaded by users.

“Unfortunately, the publication on your website of audiovisual content copyrighted by members of the association is largely of illegitimate nature,” reads a letter sent by the association to Pavel Durov, general director of Vkontakte. “The use [of that content] violates exclusive rights of our companies.”

In the letter, the association demanded that all illegal content should be removed from the web site, threatening legal action if the demand is not met.

A list of films illegitimately uploaded to the website and available for viewing and downloading, including 502 titles, was attached to the letter. It features, among others, such recent local box office hits as Vykrutasy (Lucky Trouble) and Yolki (Six Degrees of Celebration).

The move follows several unsuccessful attempts by rights holders to curb unauthorized distribution of video content over social networking sites, which are considered the biggest source of online piracy in Russia.

Previously, Vkontakte repeatedly stated that it had no control over user-generated content but was willing to cooperate with rights holders, allowing them to remove the content they claimed was illegitimate.

A year ago, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) put Vkontakte on a list of international companies that undermine the growth of the international legitimate music marketplace. Recently, RIAA confirmed Vkontakte’s status as a “notorious market.” The social networking website responded with a threat of compiling a list of organizations that “distribute false information.”

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