Russia's Leading Social Network VKontakte Cleared Of Copyright Infringement

from the surprising,-but-maybe-irrelevant dept

VKontakte is not only the largest social networking site in Russia, but is also one of the biggest unauthorized repositories of copyright music, thanks to its file-hosting service. Given the moves to clamp down on copyright infringement in Russia, it seemed only a matter of time before VKontakte found itself in hot water because of this. And yet, as Torrent Freak reports, something unexpected has happened:

Russia's largest social network has been cleared of copyright infringement charges by a court in St. Petersburg. A lawsuit brought by a famous local records label alleged that VKontakte should be held liable for music piracy carried out by its users. However a judge ruled that there was no way the site could monitor all user uploads for infringement and in any event, no operator of Vkontakte had anything to do with the downloading, recording, and dissemination of any infringing content.
This is, of course, an eminently sensible ruling, because it is indeed impossible for VKontakte to check every upload for possible infringement, not least because copyright law is so complex that only courts are competent to make that call. However, it looks like unauthorized uploads may be going away anyway:
Earlier this year the site's founder said that talks were underway with Universal, Warner and Sony with a view to making their content available to the site's users as part of a licensing deal.
It seems inevitable that part of that deal would be the elimination of all those unofficial copies. VKontakte's recent court win will at least strengthen its negotiating position when it comes to arguing over the details.

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Filed Under: copyright, russia, secondary liability, social media
Companies: vkontakte


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Oct 2013 @ 2:53am

    This is, of course, an eminently sensible ruling

    Which is rather shocking if you consider Soviet Russia.

    Earlier this year the site's founder said that talks were underway with Universal, Warner and Sony with a view to making their content available to the site's users as part of a licensing deal.

    Which is much more sensible. Strike a deal with the network so it can provide the songs for free and promote stuff to generate revenue such as shows, merchandise, physical media, crowdsourcing new albums etc. A pity they are being dragged into doing it right and not by their own initiative.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2013 @ 3:41am

    but if you look at the ridiculous latest list of 'rogue sites' given to the USG, it is on there, along with others that are nothing to do with the USA but still expected to be blocked. the influence the entertainment industries have on governments everywhere is disgraceful! in the main, it is detrimental to the countries themselves and has started a 'censorship society' that is going to be hard to stop! i'm waiting to see which industry next feels it is due special treatment, segregating laws, simply to illegalise and prevent competition, all at the expense of anyone other than the industries themselves!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2013 @ 4:02am

    Megaupload at its peak had 180 million users while VKontakte has 228 million and growing. Both offer(ed) file hosting services.

    So, why didn't MPAA execute a SWAT raid on VKontakte owner's residence and ask for the extradition of the "criminals" who run it? And when the court ruled it said that the site is not responsible for the infringement of its users.

    Looks like the reverse Soviet Russia jokes have some truth to them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2013 @ 4:35am

      Re:

      So, why didn't MPAA execute a SWAT raid on VKontakte owner's residence and ask for the extradition of the "criminals" who run it?

      Possibly because Russia is still more likely to shoot US agents than cooperate with them. This makes it much more difficult to infringe on another countries sovereignty.

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

  • icon
    Rikuo (profile), 29 Oct 2013 @ 4:12am

    Better make sure the 'AAs don't raid my house. I've had my desktop on non-stop since I think Saturday night, I got up moments before writing this comment and check my utorrent. 114GBs uploaded. Fortunately, it was all through a VPN.

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

    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 29 Oct 2013 @ 5:05am

      Re:

      It was all Linux distros of course.

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

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 29 Oct 2013 @ 5:33am

        Re: Re:

        Doesn't matter if it was some distro or the latest MAFIAA movies. You aren't earning a penny for it. Non-commercial use. It should be a granted right.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2013 @ 6:24am

        Re: Re:

        Hum...

        Do you enjoy pain? Because that's pretty much the only reason anyone would set-up and run the (closed source) utorrent server on Linux when there are perfectly viable, free (speech/beer) alternatives like Deluge that you can just apt-get (or yum) install. It even has a windows port.

        And then you are using a VPN? Like they say on the Internet: lolwut? Last I checked, it isn't a crime to seed Arch (or Debian, or Ubuntu, or...), and they have plenty of mirrors which makes regional restrictions moot.

        All of this combined makes your post...suspicious. Why can't you be honest?

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 29 Oct 2013 @ 11:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And then you are using a VPN? Like they say on the Internet: lolwut? Last I checked, it isn't a crime to seed Arch (or Debian, or Ubuntu, or...), and they have plenty of mirrors which makes regional restrictions moot.


          Getting away with illegal actions or evading regional restrictions are not the main reasons to use a VPN.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2013 @ 5:31am

    In Soviet Russia, common sense is heard

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2013 @ 6:10am

    This is, of course, an eminently sensible ruling, because it is indeed impossible for VKontakte to check every upload for possible infringement, not least because copyright law is so complex that only courts are competent to make that call. However, it looks like unauthorized uploads may be going away anyway:


    Only God knows what they have agree to, behind the curtains.
    Coming from Russia where laws are much more enforced by political necessity than for any real sense of justice, I can only imagine what the deal was.

    That laws probably will be used against foreign companies to the letter.

    Now that the Russian government saw what they could do with the help of friendly social network companies thanks to the US that VKontakte is probably classified as national security interest.

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

  • identicon
    Zoophile, 30 Oct 2013 @ 6:17am

    Fuck copyright

    Vkontakte is much much better then all of these cocksuckers like apple itunes who charge you for everything

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

  • identicon
    Jordan, 4 Nov 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Imagine trying to monitor every type of copyright infringement found on social media. It would be like shoveling crap against the tide.

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


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