Grooveshark Timeline Legal

Grooveshark sued by publishers

By | Published on Monday 25 July 2011


According to CNET, Grooveshark is facing a new lawsuit, this time from the music publishing sector. The US-based streaming music service is already facing litigation from Universal, though a previous lawsuit from EMI was settled, and that major is now licensing the platform.

As much previously reported, bosses at Grooveshark – where users can upload as well as stream content – insist they are simply an audio version of YouTube, and by removing unlicensed content from their servers when takedown notices are issued they are compliant with American copyright law.

Although EMI and some indies have licensed the service, others in the music industry remain convinced it is pushing safe harbour provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, designed mainly to protect internet service providers, to the limit, even if arguably the outcome of Viacom’s famous lawsuit against YouTube, relating to the video site’s early years in operation, back up Team Grooveshark’s interpretation of the law.

Some of Grooveshark’s critics argue the platform is not like the modern YouTube, because the modern YouTube has licenses in place with the vast majority of content owners, and operates an automated takedown system where pre-registered unlicensed content is automatically removed whenever it is uploaded by a user.

The only free audio streaming service to offer truly unlimited and on-demand listening to large numbers of tracks, Grooveshark is very popular with young music fans, especially Stateside, and some reckon it would be in the music industry’s interest to find a way to make it work. However, competitors like Spotify have struggled to make free streaming funded by advertising alone work financially, and some worry that Grooveshark, if it was paying out licence fees to all content owners, would suffer the same problems.

And indeed Grooveshark founder Sam Tarantino recently admitted that there were problems with both the advertising and subscription business models for on-demand streaming, proposing instead a business built on artist partnerships and management, which seems like an even less secure place for a company with large monthly overheads to be heading.

The consortium of publishers and songwriters filed its lawsuit in a Tennessee court on Friday. Grooveshark is yet to respond.