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Spinrilla sues the RIAA over allegedly flawed takedown demands

By | Published on Monday 23 March 2020


The last time we reported on Spinrilla it was because the mixtape sharing platform was being sued by the Recording Industry Association Of America. This time it’s in the news for the opposite reason, because now it’s Spinrilla suing the RIAA.

When the major labels filed litigation against Spinrilla three years ago, the mixtape service quickly hit back. It argued that it had previously been working with the music industry. Both to remove mixtapes when labels and publishers did not want their music to feature, and to promote mixtapes when labels saw inclusion in an unofficial mix as good promo, even if the unofficial mixer had not cleared or licensed any of the music that they had mixed.

That litigation continues to go though the motions. Meanwhile, Torrentfreak has spotted, Spinrilla recently turned the tables and filed its own lawsuit against the RIAA. The mixtape service’s complaint relates to the processes employed by the record industry trade body when it issues takedown notices against companies like Spinrilla. Those processes, it claims, are flawed, resulting in it receiving takedown requests against mixes that do not actually contain the music the RIAA identifies in its takedown documentation.

Spinrilla’s lawsuit states: “[The RIAA] is sending DMCA takedown notices some of which materially misrepresent that audio files uploaded by certain Spinrilla’s users infringe sound recordings owned by RIAA’s members. These unfounded takedown notices, in turn, cause Spinrilla damage to its business in at least injury to its goodwill and reputation”.

The legal filing goes to great lengths to talk through all the measures Spinrilla has in place to combat infringement and repeat infringers on its networks. Because of those measures, every takedown request the RIAA sends requires work, it says.

“Each takedown notice received by Spinrilla triggers a series of tasks that Spinrilla personnel must perform”, the lawsuit goes on, “including reading the takedown notice, determining where in Spinrilla’s system the allegedly infringing audio file resides, removing (when appropriate) the content, updating a list of repeat infringers and applying Spinrilla’s repeat infringer policy to that list”.

It then adds that “false takedown notices needlessly waste Spinrilla’s time, disrupts its personnel’s work and puts at risk for terminating a user as a ‘repeat infringer’ when in fact the user uploaded non-infringing content”.

Among the allegations made by Spinrilla is that the RIAA is issuing takedowns based on metadata rather than actually listening to allegedly infringing mixes. And that the trade body has continued to issue takedowns against content that the mixtape site has already stated do not contain infringing material – or which constitute fair use.

Spinrilla reckons that, as a result of the RIAA’s alleged conduct, it is due damages. That’s on the basis that the safe harbour contained in America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act – which sets out the process by which copyright owners can issue takedown requests against online operations – puts certain obligations on the takedown issuers.

In particular, the DMCA states that if a takedown issuer “materially misrepresents … that material or activity is infringing”, they may be liable to pay damages to the site they issued the takedown against.

It remains to be seen how the RIAA responds.