IFPI welcomes final court decision against vKontakte

9th November 2012, London

Music companies working to develop a fair online music market in Russia have been bolstered by a landmark final court ruling confirming that the social network site vKontakte is guilty of distributing unlicensed music on its website.

The Presidium of the Russian Supreme Commercial Court on November 8th refused to hear an appeal by vKontakte against lower court rulings. The decision leaves no scope for further appeals in this case and it upholds the landmark findings against vKontakte by the St. Petersburg Court of Appeals and the Federal Court of Cassation.

Welcoming the judgment, IFPI CEO Frances Moore said: "This is the latest of several court decisions against vKontakte in recent months, and it sends a clear message from the highest Russian court that the company must change its ways and take several steps to stop these infringements and respect intellectual property rights. Russia can have a thriving modern music industry and be a major world market if it can stop services like vKontakte from infringing the rights of artists and producers and violating Russian law. The government has a key role to play, and we hope it will exert is influence to make sure vKontakte stops infringing."

Background on the case

The case against vKontakte was brought by SBA Music Publishing and SBA Production, members of the Gala Music Group in Russia. The cases were based on vKontakte making available a number of Gala's music compositions and sound recordings without licensing agreements. It has now passed through the Commercial Court of St. Petersburg, the Commercial Court of Appeals, the Federal Commercial Court, and with the refusal of an appeal to the Presidium of the Supreme Court, the appeals process has concluded. The Federal level judgement is therefore final, while several further cases are pending in lower instance courts.

Background on vKontakte

vKontakte is Russia's most popular online entertainment platform. It has over 110 million registered users and over 33 million users per day, and is one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world, attracting more traffic than BBC Online or CNN.com. vKontakte itself claims to be responsible for more than half of all internet traffic in CIS countries.

The unlicensed vKontakte music service allows on-demand streaming of music from an extensive catalogue of Russian and international sound recordings and encourages software developers to create apps for illegal downloading of content via vKontakte.

Russia is now one of Europe's biggest online markets. vKontakte is a business valued at between US$1.5 and US$3 billion, and it is built on the back of content which they are not licensed to use. The music industry has partnered with a number of internet and telecom companies to offer various legal online music services in Russia (see http://www.pro-music.org/legal-music-services-europe.php) but vKontakte, with its illegal business model, dominates the market.

For further information contact: Daniel Friedlaender, IFPI European Office Email: daniel.friedlaender@ifpi.org Tel: +32 (0)2 511 9208