Russian Social Networking Site Vkontakte Wins Copyright Case Against Music Label

Meanwhile, the company plans to create a paid music service.

MOSCOW -- The Russian social networking web site Vkontakte has won a court case against local music label Soyuz, a verdict apparently out of synch with the most recent copyright trends in Russia. Meanwhile, the site has also announced plans to create a paid music service.

An arbitration court in St Petersburg has ruled that Vkontakte was not responsible for the uploading of over 60 tracks, to which Soyuz has the rights, by its users. In accordance with a statement published on the court's web site, none of Vkontakte's employees were immediately connected to the uploading of copyrighted materials by users.

The court also ruled that Vkontakte is unable to monitor all content upload by users and determine if any copyright infringement takes place.

In the past, local courts often made similar verdicts, accepting Vkontakte’s claim that it has no control of user-generated content but is willing to remove any copyrighted materials at the rights holder’s request. More recently, however, as Russia tightened its stance against online piracy, local courts were no longer that lenient. Last year, for instance, Vkontakte lost an almost identical lawsuit to another local label, Gala Records, and many believed that the precedent would no longer allow the popular social network to hide behind the statement that it was unable to control content uploaded by users.

However, some market players believe that pushing Vkontakte towards creating a legitimate music service would be more productive than trying to fight with it in court. And the social network is apparently moving in that direction.

Russian newspaper RBK Daily quoted Vkontakte’s deputy general director Ilya Perekopsky as saying that the company is in negotiations with music labels about the creation of a paid music service. The social network’s founder Pavel Durov said on his Twitter account that the company is going to monetize music and pay royalties to labels "like Spotify."

Earlier this week, there were reports that Vkontakte is also in negotiations with several local online video services about replacing video content uploaded by users with legitimate movies and TV series.