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RIAA hits back at Spinrilla’s “obvious and baseless” distraction tactic lawsuit

By | Published on Thursday 2 April 2020


The Recording Industry Association Of America has hit back at mixtape sharing platform Spinrilla, which has sued the record industry trade group over allegations it’s been issuing flawed takedown requests.

The RIAA says Spinrilla’s lawsuit is a bid to distract attention from its own copyright law violations, and that the litigation should be dismissed because the mixtape platform has failed to allege the “bare minimum facts necessary” to make a claim.

The RIAA sued Spinrilla for copyright infringement on behalf of the major labels three years ago. At the time the trade group said that the mixtape sharing service “specialises in ripping off music creators by offering thousands of unlicensed sound recordings for free”.

Spinrilla countered that it had previously had a good relationship with the labels and always fulfilled its obligations under America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove infringing material from its platform, meaning it had safe harbour protection.

That lawsuit continues to go through the motions. But more recently Spinrilla sued the RIAA, arguing that the labels had not been fulfilling their obligations under the DMCA when sending takedown notices demanding the removal of allegedly infringing content.

The RIAA’s system for issuing takedowns was flawed, Spinrilla said, meaning that it had received “unfounded takedown notices” that “materially misrepresent that audio files uploaded by certain Spinrilla users infringe sound recordings owned by RIAA’s members”.

Such unfounded takedown notices caused unnecessary work for and damage to the reputation of Spinrilla, the lawsuit claimed. And because such material misrepresentations breach the labels’ obligations under the DMCA regarding takedowns, they should pay the mixtape platform some lovely damages.

But not so says the RIAA in its legal response this week, which seeks to have Spinrilla’s case dismissed or – if that’s not possible – a summary judgement in its favour.

“Although RIAA has sent Spinrilla dozens of notices asking Spinrilla to take down over a thousand infringing files, this entire lawsuit is based on the inclusion in a takedown notice (that addressed multiple works) of a single audio file”, the RIAA states in its legal filing.

“Spinrilla alleges that RIAA knowingly misrepresented that this single audio file was infringing”, it goes on. “But the allegation about RIAA’s knowledge is insufficient to state a claim because it is based on nothing more than pure conjecture and does not satisfy the well-established pleading standards”.

“More fundamentally”, it then says, “even taking all of Spinrilla’s allegations as true and giving Spinrilla the benefit of all reasonable inferences, the complaint fails to state a claim because it does not allege that Spinrilla ever removed or disabled the sole audio file it identifies, or that Spinrilla suffered injury as a result of removing or disabling access to the file”.

The RIAA then links the new lawsuit to the existing legal battle between it and Spinrilla. “As this court is well aware, Spinrilla is a defendant in an ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit brought by several of RIAA’s member record companies”, it adds.

Moreover, it claims, at a court hearing on that litigation last June “the court advised Spinrilla’s founder that it had ‘real concerns … about [defendants’] potential liability’ and, further, that their safe harbour defence under the DMCA ‘is probably not going to stand'”.

So, the labels allege, “Spinrilla’s new lawsuit is an obvious and baseless attempt to draw the court’s attention away from the views expressed by the court at that hearing and from the pending motions for summary judgment in the original case, which demonstrate Spinrilla’s persistent and flagrant pattern of facilitating and encouraging massive copyright infringement”.

“But”, the RIAA’s legal filing insists, “Spinrilla’s frivolous claim about a single audio file in this new lawsuit should have no bearing on the evidentiary record or the outcome of the record companies’ case against Spinrilla”.

Given Spinrilla failed to allege the “bare minimum facts necessary” to make a claim, the RIAA reckons the new lawsuit should be dismissed.

However, if that’s not possible, the trade group then provides various arguments as to why its takedown system is DMCA compliant and, therefore, if the court isn’t willing to dismiss Spinrilla’s lawsuit, it should issue a summary judgment in the labels’ favour.

We now await the judge’s response.