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BPI to call on courts to block Grooveshark

By | Published on Friday 17 May 2013


The BPI is preparing to force UK ISPs to block access to a new list of rogue music services through the courts. And on this occasion, rather interestingly, Grooveshark is amongst them.

As previously reported, the BPI began gaining court orders forcing the UK’s main ISPs to stop their customers from accessing web services that enable piracy after the movie industry successfully secured such an order against Newzbin, setting an important precedent. Although such blocks are easy to get around, the record industry’s trade body clearly feels that they do enough to move some internet users over to legal services and has kept up the campaign – the most high profile block being against The Pirate Bay.

Now, according to TorrentFreak, a new list of services is being drawn up ready for a judge to take a look at. This list features BitTorrent search engines 1337x, BitSnoop, ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, TorrentReactor, TorrentCrazy, Monova, Torrentdownloads, TorrentHound and Torrentz; file-transfer services Filestube, Filecrop, Filetram and Rapidlibrary; download sites BeeMP3, Dilandau, MP3juices, MP3lemon, MP3raid, MP3skull, Abmp3, Bomb-mp3, Emp3world and Newalbumreleases; and finally, often controversial streaming service Grooveshark.

Grooveshark’s inclusion, of course, is interesting because the site insists that it is a legitimate service, operating something akin to an audio version of YouTube. Users upload music to the streaming service and if rights owners want that music gone, they must submit a DMCA takedown notice. Unless you’re The Beatles, in which case Grooveshark will always ensure your music is offline.

The record industry has accused Grooveshark of operating a deliberately shoddy takedown system, with music reappearing on the site almost as soon as it’s taken down. The major labels, led by Universal, are also pursuing various legal actions through the American courts – one in which Universal claims that Grooveshark employees themselves have uploaded music to the site, which would mean the company could not hide behind the safe harbour elements of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

But that’s American law. If a Grooveshark block really is on the BPI’s list, it will be an interesting test of what DMCA-style safe harbours digital firms can rely on under UK and European law. Assuming the Groovesharkers were included to fight the block application in the British courts. The firm’s boss Sam Tarantino recently admitted that the long running legal actions against his company were taking their toll financially.

Rightholders are reportedly being asked to confirm to the BPI whether or not they have any licensing deals in place with any of the sites listed by 21 May, after which presumably the final document will be handed to the High Court.