RadioandMusic
| 20 Feb 2020
American music streaming website Grooveshark ruled liable for copyright infringement

MUMBAI: Grooveshark, an American music streaming website was proved guilty of copyright infringement by the New York federal court. On Monday, 29 September, Judge Thomas P. Griesa of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled that Grooveshark was liable for copyright infringement because its own employees and officers uploaded a total of 5,977 of the labels' songs without permission. The employees and officers include Chief Executive Officer Samuel Tarantino and Chief Technology Officer, Joshua Greenberg.

Similar to Napster, LimeWire, Grokster and other online music outlets before it, Grooveshark came under fierce attack from the recording industry for hosting music files without permission. Grooveshark makes millions of songs available for streaming. However, despite numerous legal challenges, the service has continued operating and building a huge audience in the years before the arrival of Spotify and other streaming outlets, which operate with the permission of record companies and music publishers.

Grooveshark's defense has long been that it is legal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the federal law that protects websites that host third-party material if they comply with takedown notices from copyright holders. Those uploads are not subject to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

"Each time Escape streamed one of plaintiffs' songs recordings, it directly infringed upon plaintiffs' exclusive performance rights," the judge wrote in his opinion. The judge also found that the company destroyed important evidence in the case, including lists of files that Greenberg and others uploaded to the service.

The next step of the case will be to set damages, and the possibility of a multimillion-dollar ruling against Grooveshark puts the service's future in doubt. When asked for a comment about the summary judgment decision, John J. Rosenberg, a lawyer for Grooveshark, said, "The Company respectfully disagrees with the court's decision and is currently assessing its next steps, including the possibility of an appeal."

Last week, in a case pertaining to pre-1972 recordings, a federal judge in California ruled that the satellite broadcaster Sirius XM was liable of copyright infringement for playing songs by the 1960s band The Turtles without permission, under California state law. The damages in that case have not been set, but it has been seen as pivotal in a wide-ranging effort by record companies and artists to collect royalties on older recordings.