Lang Van, owners of the world's largest Vietnamese music catalog and U.S. production company, filed suit last week in the United States District Court for the Central District of California as plaintiff against defendants International Data Group (IDG), a Massachusetts-based investment company, IDG Ventures, IDG Ventures Vietnam and Vietnam-based VNG Corporation (VNG) in a case of copyright infringement.
As stated in the complaint, Zing.vn (Zing), a VNG-owned and operated website and one of Vietnam's largest entertainment portals, illegally makes more than 3,000 Lang Van-owned recordings and 600 albums available for streaming or download around the globe.
"Lang Van has operated for nearly three decades to bring quality entertainment to Vietnamese people throughout the world," said Chief Operating Officer Mimi Nguyen, Lang Van. "We're enthusiastic at the overwhelming talent available today and look forward to growing Vietnamese Music within the world music market, and remain steadfast in our support of organizations and communities who consume music in a responsible way."
According to a press release, Lang Van has never received any financial compensation for the use and distribution of this copyrighted material, while the defendants continue to profit. Lang Van has records of their copyrighted content being viewed more than 250 million times through the Zing music portal.
The complaint claims the U.S.-based fund IDG Ventures, through its Vietnamese investment vehicle IDG Ventures Vietnam, directly contributed to the exponential growth of Zing.vn's website as well as the launch of the Zing Music website, bringing its business expertise, guidance and financial backing to help VNG grow. The investment also allowed IDG Ventures Vietnam to install its own managing general partner, Nguyen Bao Hoang, to the VNG Board of Directors. This investment paved the way for Zing.vn's rapid growth. Zing.vn currently boasts 20 million users who listen to 7.1 million songs daily on the website. Zing.vn is the sixth most popular website in all of Vietnam according to the Alexa web rankings.
Zing is recognized as one of the largest IP-infringing websites within Asia by several worldwide trade organizations. Currently, there are 590 infringement cases against Zing, with 1,081 cease and desist notices distributed. Brand giants Coca-Cola and Samsung pulled their advertising from Zing in 2012 after learning of the site's practices. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and other organizations have denounced Zing's practices. The Office of the United States Trade Representative has added Zing.vn to its "Notorious Markets List."
According to the complaint, Zing builds its business model around massive copyright infringement. The result has been growth in Zing's web traffic yielding additional user exposure to VNG video gaming content and increased advertising revenue for the company. VNG currently boasts a number of significant U.S. partners on its website, including Ernst & Young and Google.