Vkontakte loses copyright battle
Vkontakte, the most important social network in Russia, has recently lost a copyright case to Gala Music Group who claimed their rights for the content posted by Vkontakte users, in this case - songs by Russian pop-musicians Maxim and Infinity. Vkontakte paid a compensation of 220,000 rubles ($7000) – a ridiculous amount considering the company's ample profits of almost $45 million in 2010*.
Vkontakte – the Russian Facebook
With more than 110 million registered users, Vkontakte is the fifth most visited site in Russia and is used by more than half of Russia's online population, by far beating Facebook and other social media on the Russian market. At first glance, Vkontakte (Russian for “in contact”) is the Eastern-European Facebook twin. Since its launch in 2006, Vkontakte has been shamelessly imitating most of Facebook's features, even the color scheme is the same. Unlike Facebook, however, the Russian social network allows its users to directly upload music and full-length movies and make them available to friends or anyone else with an account.
Songs and movies
With millions of users uploading their favorite music and videos, today Vkontakte's database is enormous. Long story short, Vkontakte has become a place where one can easily find and listen to just about any song ever recorded. Although the site doesn't have an option to download files, users can do easily it with a free program or a browser plug-in. For a number of “lazy” internet users Vkontakte works as an online music player – it is faster than downloading specific mp3-s, especially when looking for popular songs which show up as suggestions in the search box. With movies the situation is similar, but since they often take a long time to load due to poor internet connection, many users find it inconvenient.
Copyrights vs. the Russian soul
Is it illegal? Of course it is! Why don't they stop it? Well, some say that the court decision in favor of Gala Music Group is the first step towards a crusade against piracy in Russia. On the other hand, the search for music in Vkontakte still shows hundreds of results by Maxim and Infinity. Besides, for Russia piracy is not exactly the first problem on the agenda. Internet users in former USSR countries generally do not see downloading as stealing – after all, if they want a better experience or are willing to support the artist they can buy a CD, a DVD, go to a concert or a movie theater. Otherwise, why pay for something they can get for free? In my further articles I will keep you posted on internet piracy in Russia – let's see what happens next! Meanwhile, check out Maxim's video.
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