Russian social networking site VK.com has forged an anti-piracy agreement with Muso, the London-based online anti-piracy company, to help stamp out piracy across the music industry in the online space, an issue that appears to be impacting a plethora of European and other global rights owners at the minute.
Announcing the alliance, Muso, which describes itself as an independent alternative to the IFPI, said that VK is the second most-visited website in Russia and is seen as a vibrant channel for social media marketing.
While Facebook may be all the rage for certain social networkers spanning the globe, give-or-take 1bn people, VK.com is swiftly garnering new users. Right now, the site plays host to more than 100m active users across Europe.
With this journalist having just joined VK.com a few minutes ago, the social networking platform bears an uncanny resemblance to the Facebook interface that greets its userbase every day.
VK.com also pulls in all of your Facebook details when your join (if you let it), and gives you the option of inviting your Facebook friends to VK.com.
Interestingly, it even accessed my full birthday details, something that was hidden on my Facebook page.
The YK.com interface
In relation to the music industry, Muso said the problem for rights owners is that the VK.com site is also widely used as a portal to allow free access to, what it described as, one of the world’s largest archives of unlicensed music and video.
There are a reported 77pc of files being unauthorised on VK.com.
Andy Chatterley, Muso co-founder and music services division head, said this scenario is having a "devastating financial impact" across the global music industry, costing potentially up to US$1bn to rights owners.
"This is a landmark day for anti-piracy across the music industry," he said, commenting on the new partnership with VK.com.
"This agreement, which affects European and other global rights owners, will see commencement into the removal of hundreds of MP3 sites that are freely making available their entire audio library to 32m people via VK.com’s interface."
The move will result in Muso implementing the removal of infringing content with VK.com.
Chatterley said the rise of illegal MP3 one-click download and streaming sites are one of the "biggest challenges" facing the music industry.
The Muso agreement with VK will pave the way for the constant monitoring of the Russian social-networking site, automatically sending takedowns if a VK user uploads the same track again, he said.
According to Muso, websites such as mp3juices.com and mrtzcmp3.net are two such examples and channel millions of users to download unlicensed songs for free – thus preventing artists, particularly emerging ones struggling to make ends meet, from receiving any revenue.
Currently, Muso works with more than 1,000 media companies globally to provide a platform that searches and removes illegal content from every sector of the internet.
Muso said the service also automatically optimises Google search results, giving rights holders the opportunity to promote their content to potential audiences in the "best way possible".
The new VK takedown tool is available immediately, and is free of charge to existing users, Chatterley added.