Kirill Vozisov commented on holding social network Vkontakte users liable for unauthorized content uploading

By: Kirill Vozisov

Lawyers of Primorye believe the copyright violation shall not be solved only by holding users liable.

the largest Russian social network volunteered to hold its users liable
for unauthorized content uploading, as Commersant newspaper writes.

network submitted data on its users’ IP addresses in its court
settlement with Gala Records/EMI company, while the latter one demanded
giving their passport information too. Nikitin label managed to
institute a criminal procedure against one of the network users for
copyright infringement early this year.
Gala Records/EMI filed two
lawsuits against Vkontakte, the largest Russian social network
(according to TNS, it had 23.78 million followers in Russia in May
2011), concerning Infinity band and female singer Maksim’s songs
uploading. The lawsuits were addressed to St. Petersburg Arbitration
Court and merged into one case with claim amount about 1.15 million

Kirill Vozisov, a partner of Inmar Legal Ltd Law Company says that
today a provider (Internet resource owner) is not liable for information
transmitted if he or she does not send it, select information addressee
and tamper with its integrity. This approach has been developed as a
part of Russian legal strategy, the Concept of Civil Legislation and
Project of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, and has foreign
equivalents (including EU Electronic Commerce Directive as of February
28, 2000 (part 4, art. 12-15); American Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA), 1998; English Defamation Act, 1996).

At the same time
courts consider owner and provider’s actions in a dispute settlement,
for example, if there has been sent a notice to provider (Internet
resource owner) in order to stop infringement, or if the real infriger
(user) has been identified. But it is true to say that these pre-trial
procedures are not prescribed by the current legislation. However, the
courts follow the principle, “A person who is responsible for copyright
infringement shall pay a fine, if he or she does not prove to be
innocent in the case”.

That is why Vkontakte has to give the
court information about its users, uploading illegal content. In this
regard while passport details are sure to be personal data, IP-address
has the same nature only with taking into account some criteria, like
IP-address permanent status, other data support (like frequency and time
of visiting certain sites), etc., Kirill Vozisov states.

Inmar Legal Ltd Law Company partner believes the situation to become worse due to
collision of such constitutional and internationally recognized concepts
as privacy and copyright protection. Accordingly, by promoting the
first of them and letting a provider not to disclose information about a
certain user guilty of copyright infringement we neglect the second
one, and vice versa. Currently US courts support copyright owners with
special attention to the existing important copyright communities in the
country. Switzerland has an opposite policy and sticks to privacy

According to Kirill Vozisov, copyright infringement in
file storages should not be fought only by massive court action against
Internet users.  Otherwise we may start disputing basic concepts of
reasoning, practical use and public interests protection. Here we can
see the disbalance between current legislation and the reality of data
usage in communication networks. In that case the lawyer states, that
the government shall create an environment where all parties of the
process will understand the practical use of legal content placement. On
the one hand, they are copyright owners or an organization representing
them, on the other hand there are users and providers.  Then, by
applying real world working principles, providers shall sign a contract
with copyright owners in order to use their creations. Internet
resources owners may charge their users for this content if they wish
(like, or leave it free, obtaining their profit from

Kirill Vozisov, who defended his PhD research
paper on this topic, thinks that the offered rules may help to create
balance for parties engaged in civil matters, who are owner, provider
and user.