'Russian Google' Restricts Music Service Content Amidst Piracy Concerns

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Yandex, "the Russian Google," has introduced restrictions on user-generated content of its music service amidst piracy concerns, although the company has denied a connection.

Two months ago, Yandex.Music, Russia's largest music streaming service, added a new option, which allows users to upload music tracks and share them with other users. However, as of earlier this month, users can still upload music tracks but can no longer share uploaded music with anybody.

Previously, some rights holders expressed concerns that the sharing of track uploaded by users may lead to illegitimate distribution of music, making Yandex.Music similar to VKontakte, Russia's largest social network.

VKontakte has been involved in numerous court battles over copyright violation by users who until recently could freely uploaded copyrighted tracks.

Meanwhile, Yandex has denied a connection between rights holders' piracy concerns and the disabling of the music sharing option of Yandex.Music.

"The option for sharing uploaded music is working in a test mode," a spokesperson for Yandex.Music tells Billboard. "We introduced it for some users at the time of the launch [of the user upload option], and now we've disabled it as we're planning to improve the interface."

"The temporary disabling of the option is not linked to rights holders' complaint, this is one of the stages of working on the product," she went on to say, adding that rights holders are to be paid their copyrights fees on streaming of tracks uploaded by users as long as rights holders have licensing deals with Yandex.

Meanwhile, rights holders still remain concerned about the possibility of sharing user-uploaded music.

"The way the service operates at the moment presents no piracy concerns," a source in the Russian record industry tells Billboard. "But when a user can share music, it won't be good."