Digital Grooveshark Timeline Legal

Digital Music News remains critical of Grooveshark’s subpoena

By | Published on Tuesday 10 April 2012


Digital Music News has again hit out at Grooveshark over the streaming company’s attempts to find out who left an anonymous comment on the industry website alleging that they worked for the digital firm and were routinely asked by bosses there to upload unlicensed content to the organisation’s servers.

As previously reported, the latest lawsuit by the Universal, Warner and Sony music companies alleges that Grooveshark executives routinely upload unlicensed content to their own website. This would deprive Grooveshark bosses of protection from copyright infringement claims via the Digital Millennium Copyight Act, which only helps digital companies if it’s customers uploading content files without licence. Grooveshark denies its own staff have ever been involved in uploading unlicensed files, though Universal says that data pulled off the digital firm’s servers as part of an earlier legal squabble show that they do. The major also presented the anonymous DMN comment as evidence.

Presenting an anonymous comment on a website as evidence in court was always a bit ambitious on Universal’s part, and has led to Grooveshark owners Escape Media Group subpoenaing DMN in a bid to identify the author of the accusatory comment, and to assess whether the digital news site has any relationship with Universal or its execs that might make them biased in this case.

Although Grooveshark likes to position itself as the little guy in its David & Goliath style legal battle with the major record companies, DMN says it’s the digital firm sending in the expensive and intimidating lawyers in this dispute. In a post on his ongoing battle with the Groovesharkers, DMN’s Paul Reskinoff writes: “Of course, a legal team this extensive (and expensive) means endless and redundant paperwork, lecturing ‘nastygrams’ and not-so-friendly phone calls. That’s probably part of a well-worn intimidation tactic designed to bury ‘opponents’, but often divorced from the actual merits of the case. We have a shoe-string budget for defending against this onslaught”.

Nevertheless, Reskinoff says he hopes his arguments will prevail at a court hearing in LA next month on Grooveshark’s subpoena. The DMN founder maintains his company has no more information about the anonymous commentator, despite a Grooveshark attorney “lecturing us with completely misguided and uninformed information related to database architecture”. And anyway, the website should be protected from subpoena claims like this, Reskinoff argues, by the First Amendment and America’s shield laws for protecting journalists from having to reveal their sources.

He also questions why Grooveshark lawyers are telling the New York courts, hearing the Universal litigation, that the DMN comment is an irrelevance that should be ignored, while telling the LA courts, hearing the subpoena claim, that the commenter’s identity is key to their defence in the major label legal battle.

You can read DMN’s full update on its own little legal battle with one of the more controversial streaming music platforms here.

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