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vKontakte launches a (licensed!) music-streaming app

Russian social network vKontakte has launched a new app for streaming music, capitalising on its growing number of music licensing deals.

The company has courted controversy – and lawsuits – within the music industry in the past with the widespread availability of user-uploaded copyrighted music on its platform. However, having signed agreements with Sony Music and Warner Music as well as some Russian publishers, vKontakte is trying to go legit.

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vKontakte to pay damages to local labels over music uploads

Russian social network vKontakte’s latest day in court came with two lawsuits from local labels over unlicensed uploads of their music by users. The Russian appeals court ruled that VK must pay 750k rubles (around $11.6k) to a label called Nikitn, and a further 600k rubles ($9.3k) to another label called Soyuz. “The sum of damages may not look significant, but it is important as an instrument for fighting illegal distribution of content,” Nikitin’s lawyer told Billboard following the verdict.

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VKontakte CEO on Russia: ‘The market is under-monetised’

The sight of VKontakte boss Boris Dobrodeyev describing the Russian music industry as “under-monetised” will make plenty of rightsholders choke on their cornflakes, given that they see the social network as one of the key villains in this state of affairs.

Yet Dobrodeyev has maintained – in an interview with Billboard – that VK can be a friend rather than a foe for the music industry.

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VKontakte cleared in label copyright dispute

VKontakte, Russia’s biggest domestic social network with 300m registered users, has officially been cleared of copyright infringement following a long-running case brought against it by Universal Music Russia and Warner Music UK.

The legal action dates back to 2014 and was seeking 51m roubles (£532k) in compensation. The St Petersburg court ruled that VKontakte was an intermediary and did not receive revenue from the sale of music.

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vKontakte ordered to change its ways on piracy

Russian social network vKontakte has been ordered to implement filtering technology to weed out music piracy on its service, as well as removing any music from Universal Music and Warner Music’s catalogues, following a lawsuit from the major labels. Sony Music had been part of the action too, but reached its own settlement with VK in July according to Billboard.