“The court’s findings confirm the lack of basis of the applicants’ claims and back up our position that we have taken throughout the case. We will continue to establish constructive dialogue with the record companies and look to agree mutually beneficial terms for co-operation.”
Vkontakte CEO Boris Dobrodeev
A St. Petersburg court has officially dismissed copyright infringement charges against Vkontakte, the end of a major battle involving major labels Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group. The published decision ends a fight that started in April of 2014, involving a relatively modest claim roughly 51 million rubles ($816,000). Vkontakte, often billed as the ‘Facebook of Russia,’ avoids any liability with the decision, though Sony did settle out-of-court in July of this year.
“Vkontakte was not aware and could not reasonably have known about the illegal use of recordings…”
A core contention by Sony, Warner, and UMG was that Vkontakte was passively permitting and enabling heavy uploading of copyrighted works. But that didn’t satisfy Russian judges, who ruled that neither label sufficiently engaged Vkontakte to (a) assist in the identification of copyrighted works, or (b) alert Vkontakte of their presence. “An important conclusion reached by the court was that Vkontakte was not aware and could not reasonably have known about the illegal use of recordings on the site prior to the claims being made,” the social network affirmed in a statement.
“The claimants not only failed to provide proof of ownership of the rights, but also failed to identify the copyright breaches.”
But this wasn’t a total loss for the labels. Aside from the out-of-court settlement, the St. Petersburg court ruling also included provisions for song identification and blocking, something US-based sites have avoided. Vkontake noted that it has already implemented a site-wide fingerprinting technology to identify and block unauthorized works.