Skip to main content

Evolution of the Russian Digital Media Market: Legitimacy of the Illegal

  • 117 Accesses


The chapter explores the difficult search for legitimacy in using unlicensed media content by the Russian social network, VKontakte, and other Russian Internet companies. Russia’s economy and society went through several stages, from complete negligence of intellectual rights to step-by-step shaping of new compromise principles to make consumers to pay at least something and to persuade right holder to accept at least something for music. For a better understanding of the cultural background of this story, we look back to the evolution of Russian intellectual property rights and observe similar “legitimacy of the illegal” phenomenon during several stages of its development. Two important generalizations are: (1) when deciding to act illegally, the actor wants to maximize the happiness of its most important stakeholders, and (2) the decision to change the business model and search for new legitimacy almost never comes from moral arguments, but is always made under external pressure.


  • Business ethics
  • Copyright
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Piracy
  • VKontakte

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Avtonomov V (2006) Balancing state, market and social justice: Russian experiences and lessons to learn. J Bus Ethics 66(1):3–9

    Google Scholar 

  • Baran KS, Stock WG (2015) Facebook has been smacked down. The Russian special way of SNSs: Vkontakte as a case study. In: Proceedings of the 2nd European conference on social media (ECSM 2015), 9–10 July 2015, Porto, pp 574–582)

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen BX (2010) April 28, 2003: Apple Opens iTunes Store., April 28, 2010

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen W (2000) With Radiohead’s kid A, Capitol busts out of a big-time slump. (Thanks, Napster). October 11, 2000

    Google Scholar 

  • DeVoss DN, Porter JE (2006) Why Napster matters to writing: filesharing as a new ethic of digital delivery. Comput Compos 23(2):178–210

    Google Scholar 

  • Frye T (2006) Original sin, good works, and property rights in Russia. World Polit 58(4):479–504

    Google Scholar 

  • Frye T (2017) Property rights and property wrongs: how power, institutions, and norms shape economic conflict in Russia. Cambridge University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Honigsberg PJ (2001) The evolution and revolution of Napster. Univer San Francisco Law Rev 36:473

    Google Scholar 

  • Huskey E (2012) Legitimizing the Russian executive: identity, technocracy, and performance. In: Power and legitimacy-challenges from Russia. Routledge, London, pp 56–68

    Google Scholar 

  • International Federation of the Phonographic Industry {IFPI} (2006) The recording industry 2006 piracy report: protecting creativity in music. Retrieved 6 Nov 2008, from

  • International Federation of the Phonographic Industry {IFPI} (2010) IFPI digitalmusic report 2010. Retrieved 15 Mar 2010, from

  • Kiriya I, Sherstoboeva E (2015) Piracy & social change | Russian media piracy in the context of censoring practices. Int J Commun 9:13

    Google Scholar 

  • Klarin A, Ray PK (2019) Political connections and strategic choices of emerging market firms: case study of Russia’s pharmaceutical industry. Int J Emerg Market 14:410–435

    Google Scholar 

  • Kononov N (2013) KodDurova: real’nayaistoriya «VKontakte» i yeyesozdatelya. [Durov’s code: the real story of VKontakte and its creator.] Ivanov i Ferber, Mann

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuznetsov A, Kuznetsova O, Warren R (2009) CSR and the legitimacy of business in transition economies: the case of Russia. Scand J Manag 25(1):37–45

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuznetsova O (2010) CSR in the emerging market of Russia: Finding the nexus between business accountability, legitimacy, growth and societal reconciliation. In: Handbook of business practices and growth in emerging markets, World Scientific, Singapore, pp 119–140

    Google Scholar 

  • Mannila S, Eremicheva G (2018) Some risks of informal business in Russia–a case study from Saint Petersburg. Int J Sociol Soc Policy 38(9/10):823–836

    Google Scholar 

  • Omidi M (2013) Blackout: why Russian internet sites are going dark over anti-piracy laws. Calvert J, August 1

    Google Scholar 

  • Pipes R (1999) Property and Freedom. Аlfred А. Кnopf, New York, 352 p

    Google Scholar 

  • Radaev V (2004) Competitive changes on Russian markets: the example of retail chains. Probl Econ Transit 47(6):66–93

    Google Scholar 

  • Radaev V (2018) A rise of state activism in a competitive industry: the case of Russian retail trade law of 2009. Communis Post-Commun Stud 51(1):27–37

    Google Scholar 

  • Rendtorff JD (2013) Basic concepts of philosophy of management and corporations. In: Luetge C (Hrgs) Handbook of the philosophical foundations of business ethics. Springer Science + Business Media B.V., Dordrecht, 597, pp1361–1386

    Google Scholar 

  • Rendtorff JD (2019) The concept of business legitimacy: corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, corporate governance as essential elements of ethical business legitimacy. In: Responsibility and governance. Springer, Singapore, pp 45–60

    Google Scholar 

  • Suspitsin D (2007) Between the state and the market: sources of sponsorship and legitimacy in Russian nonstate higher education. In: Private higher education in post-communist Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp 157–178

    Google Scholar 

  • Tsetsura K (2012) A struggle for legitimacy: Russian women secure their professional identities in public relations in a hyper-sexualized patriarchal workplace. Public Relat J 6(1):1–21

    Google Scholar 

  • Varese F (2001) The Russian Mafia: private protection in a new market economy. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Volkov V (2016) Violent entrepreneurs: the use of force in the making of Russian capitalism. Cornell University Press, Ithaca

    Google Scholar 

  • Zentner A (2006) Measuring the effect of file sharing on music purchases. J Law Econ 49(1):63–90

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maxim Storchevoy .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this entry

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Storchevoy, M., Belousov, K. (2020). Evolution of the Russian Digital Media Market: Legitimacy of the Illegal. In: Rendtorff, J. (eds) Handbook of Business Legitimacy. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-68845-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-68845-9

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Religion and PhilosophyReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences