Industry Noize: Labels To Sue Russian Social Network

Sony, Universal and Warner are among the record companies planning to sue Russian social network vKontakte for “large scale” music piracy.

They claim vKontakte deliberately allows music piracy on its service.

The labels have filed separate lawsuits in the St. Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Courts. The record companies also reckon vKontakte has about 143 million users, 88 million living in Russia, and a huge stash of music uploaded by its users.

So far, the site has ignored requests to strike licensing deals with rightsholders.

Sony, Universal, Warner and reportedly other smaller companies want the St. Petersburg court to force the Russian network site to scan for copyrighted songs and pay damages.

“VK’s music service, unlike others in Russia, is an unlicensed file-sharing service that is designed for copyright infringement on a large scale,” said IFPI chief exec Frances Moore.

The Russian site has so far declined to comment, other than telling the Guardian it hasn’t yet received legal papers from the major labels.

The IFPI says the widespread availability of downloadable music on vKontakte is harming licensed digital music services in Russia, including local players Yandex and Trava, and global services iTunes and Deezer.

It’s not easy to second-guess how vKontakte will react, given that its founder Pavel Durov has just resigned. It’s not the first time vKontakte has fallen foul of the recorded music industry.

In 2011 the Recording Industry Association of America called the site “a notorious market,” and the following year it lost a case against a couple of Russian music firms.

Recent figures from the IFPI indicate Russian recorded music revenues are close to 2.2 billion rubles ($70 million), which means it doesn’t come close to producing what could be expected from such a huge market.

For more industry news please visit