Russia’s Largest Social Network vKontakte Held Liable For Copyright Infringement

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By Daria Kim for Intellectual Property Watch

The 13th Commercial Court of Appeal recently affirmed the decision of the Commercial Court of St. Petersburg in Russia’s leading P2P case ruling that the social network vKontakte, a Facebook lookalike, is liable for copyright infringement.

The court ordered the small compensation of 210,000 rubles (about US$6,700). The dispute was brought by the affiliates of the label group Gala Records over the unlicensed distribution of the songs enabled by vKontakte’s built-in applications.

vKontakte based its defence on user liability, absence of profits and undertaking preventive measures against the unauthorised use of copyrighted works; however, the court did not consider them sufficient to exempt the provider from liability.

The case is one of the disputes that have recently been litigated between right holders and file-sharing websites such as the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) v. vKontakte; Gala Records v. Mail.ru; The First Music Publishing Company v. Rambler Internet Holding; and Monolit Records v. Odnoklassniki.ru.

By 1 September, Russia expects to enact the amended Civil Code that, among other novelties, contains provisions aiming to regulate the use of works in internet.

Parties to the case were: Gala Records – Russia’s first private sound-recording company and the exclusive distributor of EMI Music, and vKontakte – Russia’s biggest online social network with over 120 million registered users worldwide.

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