| 22 Jun 2024
VKontakte wins legal battle against two major labels, but asked to develop copy infringement technology

MUMBAI: Russian social network, VKontakte, won a legal battle against a lawsuit filed by two major labels- Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK, in April 2014. The labels were demanding the court to uphold their exclusive rights to music recordings, and asked that the network pay compensation of 51 million roubles for damages incurred, as there was illegal use of recordings on its website.

However, the court’s verdict went in favour of the network. The court reasoned its move by stating that VKontakte is a responsible information intermediary, and that it is not engaged in the sale of music and does not receive revenue from such action.

The court also highlighted the preventative measures implemented by the company to protect rights holders and noted the company's acoustic fingerprint technology that prevents users from uploading content that has already been deleted from the site.

However, the court has ordered VKontakte to improve its existing technology to prevent copyright infringement, to which the network said that it has now adopted these measures. VKontakte CEO Boris Dobrodeev said, “With regard to the system to prevent the repeated uploading of deleted content, VKontakte has already developed and implemented a digital fingerprint system. The technology is in operation and we continue to improve it on an ongoing basis.”

The efforts of the claimants were also questioned by the court, stating that the claimants did not make reasonable efforts to prevent copyright infringement as they did not engage sufficiently with VKontakte before filing their claims.

In a statement issued by VKontakte, the network stated that the court said VKontakte was unaware and could not reasonably have known about the illegal use of recordings on the site prior to the claims being made. The claimants not only failed to provide proof of ownership of the rights, but also failed to identify the copyright breaches. Dobrodeev further added, “We will continue to establish constructive dialogue with the record companies and look to agree mutually beneficial terms for co-operation.”

There was a similar claim by Sony Music Russia. However, both the parties (VKontakte and the label) agreed a confidential global settlement in July 2015.