Digital Grooveshark Timeline Top Stories

Universal sue Grooveshark

By | Published on Tuesday 12 January 2010

US-based Grooveshark has another bit of major label litigation to add to its collection, with the news that Universal Music has filed a lawsuit.

As previously reported, Grooveshark is a streaming music service accessed through your browser, which historically included both social networking and search engine elements in the mix in that music fans were encouraged to upload their record collections to the platform which other users could then search. The result was a very comprehensive library of tracks. Users can still upload tracks, which makes it especially friendly to new bands wanting to be featured on the platform.

The service, which has both a free-to-access ad-funded offer and a premium subscription package, does pay royalties to record companies, though the way its library was created – by users – has proven controversial and led to some allegations of copyright infringement from within the music industry.

According to Digital Music News, Universal’s lawsuit says that Grooveshark pays nothing to include music by these artists on its platform. It also adds that licences are available for these artists’ music should a service be willing to pay, noting that both MySpace and Rhapsody have such licences. Finally it criticises Grooveshark for not incorporating a YouTube-style content-block function onto to its platform to stop users uploading files that copyright owners do not wish to appear on the service.

Universal have confirmed their legal action, but offered little further comment. Grooveshark themselves are yet to respond at all to the new action, though they were somewhat ambivalent towards EMI’s legal action even prior to a settlement being on the horizon. The service gained a lot of momentum in 2009, especially among young American music fans who currently have no access to European streaming music service Spotify. With the recent closure of Imeem, their user base can only be on the rise. All of which means it is in the music industry’s interest to find a way to make the service work for all parties.