Universal Music and Warner Music have suffered a major legal defeat against social network vKontakte (VK) in Russia after the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Appeal Court overturned an earlier ruling that VK must implement effective technology to stop infringements on its service.
The majors have vowed to file appeals in the long-running copyright infringement cases.
The latest verdicts were handed down on Wednesday and Thursday this week (March 2 and 3)
The Court upheld an earlier decision finding that VK is not liable for copyright infringement.
IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore said: “These are disappointing judgments which are out of step with rulings both in Russia and around the world, and leave Russia as one of the very few significant music markets in the world that is dominated by a single unlicensed service. The decisions will be appealed.”
Both Warner Music UK and Universal Music Russia filed copyright infringement cases against VK in the court in April 2014.
98% of the Warner and UMG’s top hits featuring in the Top 40 UK chart from the past seven years are available on VK’s unauthorised music service.
VK, the second largest social network in Europe, has become known as ‘Russia’s Facebook’.
Unlike Mark Zuckerberg’s creation, however, the majority of its 88m Russian users are understood to have used the site to illegally share copyrighted material.
In fact, VK is now recognised as holding the biggest library of illegal online music in the world – even bigger than The Pirate Bay.
The major labels brought copyright infringement charges against VK in the Russian courts in April 2014.
Sony Music Entertainment settled with the platform in July last year – an agreement believed to be contingent on VK’s promise to begin monetising its content.Music Business Worldwide