Music Labels Pin Russian Piracy Problem on VKontakte Social Network

As we’ve mentioned in the past, VKontakte, the largest social network in Russia, is a hotbed for all sorts of rebellious activity.  From helping to spark protests to file sharing, the site is often the subject of scrutiny and admonishment.  A recent study at Paidcontent shows that while labels are trying to improve music sales in the country, it’s been decreasing steadily due to a “culture of copyright infringement.”

The quote was by IFPI CEO Frances Moore, and she holds that Russia could become a top 10 music market if they were just to curb the piracy.  She goes on to mention that the copyright infringement problems are “epitomised by the music service run by the leading social networking site vKontakte.”

So can the social networking site be to blame?  While it has never been easy to link piracy to decreasing sales, the major labels’ revenue has been declining almost year to year since Napster was founded in 1999, and it’s been said that since that time online music piracy has burgeoned.  The counter argument is always that piracy actually entices people to buy more music overall because they get exposure to the music they really like and immediately buy the product.

It’s a difficult debate, and throwing social networking into the mix only complicates the issue.  In Russia, VKontakte holds a place of cultural significance, and it is directly tied to unlimited file sharing.  If Facebook had a default application that allowed users to easily share any file they wanted without any copyright checks, how quickly would it become a hotbed of every pirated movie and song on the web?  Pretty quick, I think.

Image: Pavel Ignatov via Shutterstock