Digital Grooveshark Timeline Legal

Grooveshark demands information from Digital Music News as part of Universal Music legal squabble

By | Published on Wednesday 18 January 2012


Grooveshark’s lawyers are trying to force Digital Music News to reveal the identity of a user who claimed to work for the streaming music company when leaving a comment on the digital news site last year, or at least so says DMN, which reports that it received a stack of subpoena paperwork from the digital firm’s attorneys last weekend.

As previously reported, a commenter on a Digital Music News story about Grooveshark last November claimed to work for the streaming firm, and said that they were routinely told by bosses there to upload music to the company’s servers from labels with which they had no licences.

Officially Grooveshark’s users upload music to the site, which means that when music from record companies which haven’t licensed the platform appears, the service’s owners can avoid liability for copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, providing they take action to remove said content when made aware of it.

But Universal Music, in its latest copyright infringement lawsuit against Grooveshark, says it has evidence that staff members at the company also upload unlicensed content, which would prevent the firm from using DMCA provisions to fight copyright infringement charges. Universal’s claims are based on upload data it received from Grooveshark as part of an earlier legal dispute, and the anonymous DMN comment. Grooveshark insists that Universal has deliberately misinterpreted the data it provided the major, and that the DMN commenter is a fraud, ie he or she has never worked for the streaming firm.

According to DMN, as they prepare to fight Universal’s latest lawsuit, Grooveshark’s lawyers, from an LA firm called McPherson Rane LLC, have requested access to any correspondence between DMN, Grooveshark employees and Universal, and any information that would help identify the anonymous alleged whistleblower. DMN calls the subpoena filed against it by Grooveshark’s legal reps “aggressive and broad-reaching”.

Commenting on the legal papers it received this weekend, DMN writes: “The aggressive and far-reaching subpoena from Grooveshark is probably based on the assumption that Digital Music News is small enough to be intimidated, legally or otherwise. That could prove a drastic miscalculation, especially considering a wide body of legal protections and precedents that protect journalists and their whistleblower sources, not to mention a determination by this publication to protect all informants.  The subpoena action may also stir additional information from unfriendly sources, which could be entered into the case and prove incredibly damaging to Grooveshark’s defence effort”.

DMN has published the actual subpoena document here, and the original comment making allegations about Grooveshark management here.