‘Russian Facebook’ found guilty of illegal music distribution

A landmark final court ruling in Russia has confirmed that vKontankte – dubbed the ‘Russian Facebook’ and the second largest social network in Europe – is guilty of distributing unlicensed music on its website.

On November 8, the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Commercial Court refused to hear an appeal by vKontakte against lower court rulings.

The decision leaves no opportunity 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.”

The initial case against vKontakte was brought by SBA Music Publishing and SBA Production, members of the Gala Music Group in Russia.

The cases arose after vKontakte made 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.Music Business Worldwide

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