The Arbitration Court of St.-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region has rejected the claim against VKONTAKTE for 3 million RUB in damages for copyright infringement of Victor Tsoi’s music. 

VKONTAKE is similar to FACEBOOK and is based in St Petersburg. It has in the past been targeted by rights owners such as Warner Music UK and Universal Music Russia for infringing download.

Victor Tsoi is one of Russia’s most iconic singers and was the leader of the post-punk band Kino. He died in a car crash in 1990 and still remains immensely popular in Russia today.

For the Victor Tsoi case, in addition to compensation, the rights owner (MUSIK PRAVO) requested the removal of the illegal content from VKONTAKTE. 

Whilst MUSIK PRAVO was targeting copyright infringement, it seems their litigation strategy was not fully inline. Indeed the Court confirmed that the plaintiff had made both property and non-property claims, and each claim should be subject to court fees. However the plaintiff was found to only have paid the court fees for the request to obtain compensation from the defendant and had attached a copy of the payment of the official fee. The Court requested payment of the official fees in full for both claims (compensation and removal), and evidence of payment of the same. In as much as the company MUSIK PRAVO did not carry this out in the allotted time, the Court rendered a decision on the rejection of the claims. Whilst VKONTAKTE does have a copyright complaint procedure it is yet to be seen whether MUSIK PRAVO will further litigate or negotiate with VKONTAKTE.

This is not the first litigation MUSIK PRAVO has filed due to the songs of Tsoi. In August, the Ninth Arbitration Appeal Court also confirmed the rejection of MUSIC PRAVO’s claim against Channel 1. The company sought 300,000 RUB in compensation for the use of the song “Cuckoo” in the program “the Voice” which aired in October 2015. The courts found that the tv channel, can independently determine the content of their television programs, in particular the works, which will be an integral part of the same. In addition, as confirmed in the decision of the Court, Channel 1 operated subject to a license agreement with the Russian author’s society in 2008, paying the releva 

Whilst VKONTAKTE moves toward legalization of content, and possible commercial downloads, it still faces infringement problems that will need to be resolved.