Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
file sharing, liability

Companies:
ifpi, vkontakte



Russian Appeals Court Says Popular Social Network vKontakte Is Liable For File Sharing By Users

from the third-party-liability dept

The Russian social network site vKontakte is often called "The Facebook of Russia," in large part because it looks a lot like Facebook. It's incredibly popular across the Russian-speaking region (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.). However, for years, the entertainment industry has argued that the main reason it's so popular is because it has a built in file sharing feature, which is regularly used for the unauthorized sharing of music files. It's no secret that plenty of unauthorized music gets shared this way -- and we've even seen other file sharing platforms (even those targeted outside of Russian-speaking countries) built on top of vKontakte's system. A court had ruled that the site was liable earlier this year, and now an appeals court has backed that up. The full details aren't entirely clear, as most of the information so far comes from a gloating press release from IFPI. If there are specific activities that vKontakte does to encourage unauthorized sharing that's one thing, but merely having a feature that allows individuals to share files seems like a perfectly legitimate feature. The fact that it's widely used to infringe shouldn't put the blame on the service provider automatically. It would be great to see more details of the ruling to understand the thinking.

Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Alana (profile), 21 May 2012 @ 8:30pm

    ...My brain just broke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    izzitme101, 21 May 2012 @ 8:55pm

    Well you are entitled to a new one i think, off you go to download it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2012 @ 8:57pm

    Is the IFPI working for the KGB? That would explain a lot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2012 @ 11:53pm

    is it a feature like file sharing with Instant Messenger?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Planespotter (profile), 22 May 2012 @ 12:57am

      Re:

      I'd imagine so, or like email where you can send stuff as "attachments"!

      I suggest the legacy parts of the entertainment industry set their targets higher and just accuse "The Internet" of facilitating infrringment and get a Judge to ban it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 May 2012 @ 2:12am

        Re: Re:

        Oiy, don't suggest things like that, they're stupid enough to actually try it! And you know they'd be able to find a judge clueless enough, or 'compensated' enough to actually try and do so too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kirion, 22 May 2012 @ 2:29am

      Re:

      No, you simply can upload music and video and stream it from vk.com

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 1:27am

    this is just another way for a backwards thinking entertainment industry to extort money. it wont be long before they are making so much money from all of the outside sources they keep blaming for infringement that they wont have to produce anything new or have to join the digital age, their income is gonna be guaranteed from old stuff. wont be much longer before there is nothing in the world's courts other than copyright infringement cases. now the entertainment industries have managed to get life imprisonment as punishment for so heinous a crime, any and every other crime hardly seems worth while committing, does it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 2:12am

    Kudos to the russian courts for getting it right. The system is a social network structured on file sharing, and they clearly grasped the intent and the key functionality of the site.

    This would be a great example for the US courts to look at and understand when it comes to seeing past the safe harbors for "Service providers" who clearly profit from piracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kirion, 22 May 2012 @ 2:31am

      Re:

      Except there are't any decent legal services in Russia.

      And key functionality of VK is messaging and, well, social networking. By far.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 5:28am

        Re: Re:

        "key functionality" also seems to include "sending enormous quantities of spam". Not that this matters WRT to the filesharing debate, but it does strongly suggest that VK either doesn't know how to run its operation correctly or it can't be bothered to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Kirion, 22 May 2012 @ 5:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Twitter also has tons of spam, for example. Your point?
          VK has much smaller team than, lets say, Yandex or Mail.ru. They still are leading social network in ex-USSR despite Facebook efforts.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 6:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            My point is that intelligently, competently, ethically, responsibly run operations don't send spam on a large-scale and ongoing basis. The size of the team is irrelevant: it only takes one person with clue to deal with the problem.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Kirion, 22 May 2012 @ 8:23am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              VK don't send spam anymore than FB or Twitter.

              There are spammers on VK of course.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Kirion, 22 May 2012 @ 8:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Right. So Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc etc apparently lack this one person with a clue on how to deal with spam.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      >Kudos to the russian courts for getting it right. This would be a great example for the US courts to look at and understand when it comes to seeing past the safe harbors for "Service providers" who clearly profit from piracy.

      This just in. US Appeals Court says popular social network Facebook is liable for filesharing by users.

      Enjoy your backlash.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 9:42am

        Re: Re:

        If facebook's main goal was to help users share files (and not to share status updates or stupid duck mouth pictures) they wouldn't be enjoying their (quickly sinking) stock offering. They would instead be looking for work.

        It's all in the way things are made to work.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      drew (profile), 22 May 2012 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      I am curious as to exactly what kind of a web and what kind of a content industry you would like to see us left with if all your preferred legislation was passed?
      From where I'm sitting it looks pretty horrific.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 10:41am

      Re:

      LOL

      Any non pro-piracy posts apparently now get "reported", i.e. censored.

      You people are such worthless, hypocritical douchebags.

      And Russia already has a Facebook-type application: it's called Facebook.

      vKontakte is for piracy, Masnick, and you know it. You're such a lying sociopathic slimeball.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 11:26am

        Re: Re:

        You see, your comment is quickly going to be reported (again, as I'm sure I explained to you, if it's still viewable, IT IS NOT BEING CENSORED). Why is your comment going to be reported? It's nothing but ad homs, directed at people on this site and Mike. These are the kind of comments that get reported. Ones that DO NOT add anything worthwhile to the discussion. Also, you're acting like a troll. No, not all ACs or people who disagree are trolls. People who come here ONLY to insult others and claim all the people here support piracy... those are the people who get labeled as trolls, the ones doing those things. Namely, people like you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 12:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Reporting mine? Fine, go for it.

          But you asshats reported the comment I replied to, which was nothing but someone expressing their opinion.

          So yeah, sorry, but the world sees you as hypocritical douchebags; along with of course, the rest of the laundry list of accurate invective mockingly spoken if the subject of Techdirt is brought up...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 3:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I didn't report the comment you replied to. You see, your problem is everyone either agrees with you or they don't. There's no room for anything else. You can say whatever you want as far as I'm concerned, I won't report it unless it's extremely offensive (even if it is all just ad homs). Stupidity is readily evident, yours more so. Better to let people see such stupidity outright I say, that way they know who to easily dismiss/ignore.

            The world doesn't see myself or anyone here as hypocritical douchebags. That would be only you who sees us that way. Well, you and a handful of others who come here to do what you do. Insult people, present misinformation, etc.

            But what's interesting is if we're all hypocritical douchebags and lying about this and that and ignored and a joke to the rest of the world, why do you keep coming here and posting? Your time is ill spent if that's the case. You could be doing something productive. Me thinks thou doth come here because thou are a loser with too much time on his hands and the only way they can get any joy is by thinking they're able to belittle others in a way that makes these others feel bad. It doesn't. Fyi. If we feel bad for anyone it's for you. Such a sad, pathetic little troll.

            [pats you on head] There there. You can always try again tomorrow to say, "Ha! Gotcha!" You won't. Ever. But you can keep trying if that makes you feel better.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 4:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I rarely bother coming here anymore; Masnick is tilting at windmills and nobody here realizes that the glory days of piracy are gone.

              It's similar to when it became acceptable conventional wisdom that Fox News was full of zealots and not to be taken seriously. Same thing happened here; some time in the past couple years this place jumped the shark.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2012 @ 7:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            >So yeah, sorry, but the world sees you as hypocritical douchebags

            If that's the way "the world" sees the site, go ahead. Get your IP maximist friends to vote each and every one of your comments insightful. They don't even need to comment or leave a name. There're so many of them out there in "the world" this shouldn't be too hard, right?

            >I rarely bother coming here anymore

            So what stopped you from not bothering this time?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Vic, 22 May 2012 @ 12:58pm

        Re: Re:

        Right,

        Mike knows it very well, he is obviously an active user of vKontakte! Heck, he still lives there in Russian Federation, only making us believe that he blogs from California!

        Very detailed answer from you, nice arguments! Name calling is both nonchalant and succinct, nice touch.

        The only problem is with the logic, but hey that's minor. Who needs it, right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Kirion, 23 May 2012 @ 5:10am

        Re: Re:

        Do you know how many young russian artists use VK for promotion? Thousands.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kirion, 22 May 2012 @ 2:28am

    We don't have DMCA-style safe harbor provisions in Russia.
    But we do have landmark ruling, explaining when service provider are liable for users infringement. In this case Vkontakte wasn't found liable for infringement af a matter of fact. But they were sanctioned (for around $6500. Not much huh.) because social network wasn't fast enough after reported infringement. Actually they simply blocked search for artist and songs names (laughably easy to bypass) and haven't removed content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 22 May 2012 @ 7:34pm

    I wonder...

    How many politicians and judges would support the idea of making a company liable for what its users do, if the idea were extended logically?

    Staffer in the employ of a congress critter illegally copies an image...congress critter gets to pay the statutory damages. Court clerk uses his net access at work to distribute illegal files, judge goes to prison.

    I bet those goofy interpretations of who is liable would go away overnight...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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