Russian Social Network Odnoklassniki to Launch Legal Video Service

The move comes as part of the Russian online video market's shift towards lawful operation.

MOSCOW – As the Russian online video segment is moving towards legitimate operation, Odnoklassniki, one of the country's biggest social media networks, is launching a video service.

"Today, the development of our video services is the main priority for us," Ilya Shirokov, vice president of Mail.Ru Group, which owns Odnoklassniki, was quoted as saying by the Russian business newspaper RBK Daily. "We continue to negotiate with the biggest rights holders in order to constantly increase our video catalogue."

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Recently, Odnoklassniki signed an agreement with the local TV series producer Yellow, Black and White, which makes content for Russia's major networks, including Rossiya and CTC. As soon as the new video service is launched, complete seasons of popular TV series will be available on Odnoklassniki.

Odnoklassniki is apparently walking in the footsteps of the country's biggest social networking web site, Vkontakte, which announced plans for a legitimate video service several weeks ago and more recently said it was negotiating with Amedia, a major local TV series producer.

Over the last few years, the lion's share of illegitimate online videos were available on social networking websites as user-generated content, and the websites responded to rights holders' complaints saying they had no control of materials uploaded by users. The situation began to change earlier this year when stricter anti-piracy legislation was enacted.

With nearly 42 million unique users a month, Odnoklassniki is Russia's second largest social networking web site after Vkontakte. Odnoklassniki users daily watch over 60 million videos.