Grooveshark Timeline Legal

Interesting insight into Universal’s Grooveshark lawsuit

By | Published on Friday 29 January 2010

Digital Music News has provided an interesting theory as to why Universal Music’s previously reported lawsuit against US-based streaming music service Grooveshark relates only to its pre-1972 recordings. As previously reported, Universal announced it was suing Grooveshark through the New York courts earlier this month.

DMN cites legal experts who say the lawsuit focuses on the major’s pre-1972 catalogue because of a technicality in US copyright law. Apparently, sound recording copyrights from before 1972 are not protected by federal copyright law in the US, meaning the litigation would be considered in the context of state law.

That will make it harder for Florida-based Grooveshark to lobby for the case to be moved to a court in their locality, and will require them to hire New York-based attorneys, adding to the costs of fighting the legal action, especially given that in its earlier legal fight with EMI the streaming service successfully used local lawyers with little previous IP law experience.

Grooveshark, whose catalogue was originally created by users uploading their own music collections, says it pays royalty fees and acts on content take-down notices when they are served, but has proved to be controversial partly because of the fan-sharing element that was central to the service when it first launched. EMI sued the company last year, but they settled and entered into a licensing agreement with the service, which is probably the most interesting streaming platform currently operational in the US.