Column by Yulia Yurasova about the competition of Russian video services with YouTube

Column by Yulia Yurasova about the competition of Russian video services with YouTube

The high-profile story about the difficulty with which “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” reached the Russian audience, overcoming the resistance of State Duma deputies, took an unexpected turn two months after their premiere at the domestic box office.

Last weekend I came across an unusual advertisement for the VK Video platform, which is called the next candidate for import substitution of YouTube. An advertising message on one of the social networks said the following: “Premiere of the year! Watch in the mobile application – “Oppenheimer.” The advertising picture featured a recognizable poster with a nuclear explosion and a man who looked like Cillian Murphy, the actor who played the main role in the film. When VK managed to acquire exclusive rights from Universal Pictures to show the film, the message did not specify. At the same time, you can indeed find “Oppenheimer” on the platform: the film has been repeatedly duplicated by pirate communities.

The official digital version of the Christopher Nolan film appeared only this week on Amazon, you can buy it for $19.99. It’s funny that the director himself previously strongly advised buying “Oppenheimer” only on physical media, since that way streaming companies wouldn’t be able to steal it. Which, however, did not stop Russian platforms from doing this.

Apparently, VK Video decided to use the experience of RuTube, where today you can find tapes from studios that have left Russia: Universal, Sony, Warner, Disney. This move can be called a return to historical heritage: just 15 years ago, the social network VKontakte was considered a “pirate bay” with illegal music and films, which expectedly caused discontent among copyright holders. The Internet Video Association, the National Federation of the Music Industry and media market participants fought the massive distribution of illegal content on the site. As a result, in 2013, the social network gave moderator rights to Ivi, Channel One, STS Media and other large companies. They were able to block pirated videos without additional appeals to the VKontakte administration.

But after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, the platforms on which it is possible to upload user-generated content, in response to questions about the legality of posting foreign films and music, only dramatically shrug their shoulders: without the demands of the copyright holders, the platform administrations cannot, and should not, delete it. And foreign studios, which have demonstratively severed all contacts with Russia, are unlikely to begin making official complaints.

Both users who retain quick access to content and platforms that receive traffic benefit. In conditions when YouTube indicators in the Russian Federation began to grow for the first time since 2021 (see “Kommersant” on November 20), apparently any methods are suitable in pursuit of an audience.

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