Here at MUSO we are always looking for new and innovative ways to track and remove illegal online files in the fastest and most cost effective ways possible. We are excited to be launching the next step in cleaning up online piracy with one of the more popular social media platforms on the planet.
That platform is VKontakte (VK). It’s fair to say that the vast majority of UK residents who use the internet on a daily basis probably won’t have heard of this website. VK, known as ‘The Russian Facebook’, the social networking site has been actively going strong since Pavel Durov founded it back in January 2007 and has since culminated over 250 million users worldwide, attracting 43 million users daily, thus making it the 19th most visited website in the world. These high statistics may look alarming to us and there’s a reason why. VK is the second most visited website in Russia, with only Yandex edging above them in the Alexa global search rankings, but is seen as the most important channel for social media marketing.
However, what makes VK stand out above most other social networking sites, including Facebook despite the striking similarities, is their free and easy access to one of the world’s largest archives of music and video. This is what gives them a competitive advantage over their local competitors. Their audio share engine allows users to watch full length movies for free and gain access to any sort of video content, despite the website’s best efforts with constant activity of content monitoring in order to detect and delete illegal content.
Of course, music and the music industry are hugely affected by VK audio share, especially record labels. Not to mention the activity and impact this has on musicians, where they are able to promote and upload their music onto the site. Russian rap star Noize MC is a notable example of an artist that has used VK to his advantage, by using the site to engage with his fans, as well as streaming over 1.2 million audio files.
Unfortunately, despite these advantages, VK has had a huge knock on affect for the music industry in regards to piracy. The proliferation of user uploaded tracks on the VK service is seen as a copyright villain in the eyes of the music industry and has encountered lots of problems with copyright infringement in the past. Back in October 2012 it was reported by IFPI boss Francis Moore that VK hosts 77 per cent of pirated files in Russia, which contributes towards record labels inevitably losing money due to their artists’ music being streamed through third party sources, thus gaining free access to their material.
Streaming is one issue, but in regards to downloads, its third party API usage that uses the VK database to offer a one click download for files via mp3 sites. What this means is there are a whole range of mp3 websites that are linked in directly to the VK database, allowing users to use the system via these sources. Illegal downloading sites such as mp3juices.com and mrtzcmp3.net are two of the most popular sites that use the VK audio engine.
These setbacks to the music industry have been well established here at MUSO, where we identified that VK would become a growing problem. We saw the trend in growing English language based sites that used VK’s audio sharing API to provide instant one click downloads to mp3 files, videos and software. We also saw that mp3 sites, such as mp3juices.com, have become very popular and are making a fortune from illegal content whilst the copyright holders are being stolen from. The sheer size of their user base meant that mp3 sites sprung up overnight with access to tens of millions of songs. MUSO is pleased to announce the launch of VK Takedown where we will tackle these problem head on, simply and easily with just one click.
Why have we developed the product? MUSO have built a relationship with VK where we will monitor their site 24/7 and will automatically send takedowns if a VK user uploads the same track again. To ensure this works, we will be monitoring the site constantly to ensure the takedown process goes ahead. VK Takedown will feature a new tab where sites like VK accept DMCA takedown notices for search results and MUSO will handle this type of takedown. The searches tab lists all searches matching your campaign. For example, if your campaign was for “Lady Gaga”, a search might represent a search for “Lady Gaga Born This Way”. Sending a takedown for this search would remove all results returned when searching on VK for “Lady Gaga Born This Way”. The tab follows a similar format to the other MUSO tabs, allowing you to review all the searches that MUSO has matched to your campaign and decide which ones to takedown and which ones to leave live.
Just one takedown removes an mp3 off a huge network of over 150 mp3 sites and can potentially remove tens of thousands of illegal files. Each takedown is for an artist and track name, so for popular tracks there are often hundreds of results for the same track. MUSO will only charge one takedown per takedown notice sent, which in some cases can remove thousands of files. MUSO is looking forward to working closely with our clients in helping their artists and making sure VK is free of as much infringing content as possible.
To find out more about MUSO’s suite of piracy solutions, please visit Products.