Grooveshark Opposition Grows As Sony and Warner Music Join Lawsuit */?> Grooveshark Opposition Grows As Sony and Warner Music Join Lawsuit

Posted by · December 15, 2011 4:39 pm

Already facing a lawsuit from Universal, Grooveshark—the increasingly popular music startup—drew two more legal opponents Wednesday night. According to a New York Times report, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group have been making preparations to join the suit against Grooveshark, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

Grooveshark, who claims to have drawn some 35 million users, is accused of copyright infringement. Worse yet, the claims filed against them are complemented by allegations that these violations were knowingly harbored and supported by Grooveshark executives.

In fact, emails leaked last month dealt a devastating blow to any plea of ignorance by Grooveshark. One email in particular was especially damning, in which Chairperson Sina Simantob acknowledged the plan to build Grooveshark on unlicensed music and ultimately “charge [labels] for the very data we got from them” after building an attractive enough user base.

Nevertheless, Grooveshark has remained determined to weather the increased legal opposition it faces. Drawing on the momentum it has gained in attracting listeners and major advertisers, Grooveshark maintains that it has remained consistent with the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is the federal statute dealing with copyright issues. Specifically, the DMCA provides a “safe harbor” for third-party hosting of copyrighted content so long as those sites cooperate with takedown requests from copyright holders.

Speaking specifically to the allegations made the team of labels, Grooveshark made the following statement: “We respect the intellectual property of all artists, and our strict policies are designed to ensure that our users only upload content to which they are entitled. This is a policy which we vigorously enforce within DMCA requirements.”

This statement seems to conflict quite glaringly with the messages contained in the emails leaked only weeks earlier. Combined with allegations that company executives went so far as to upload songs themselves, this will by no means be any easy win for Grooveshark. Worse still, if the company and its executives are found guilty for willful copyright infringement, the cost could be up to $150,000 per act.

Such a severe financial penalty would likely deliver a fatal blow to Grooveshark, leaving the fledgling company to follow in the footsteps of free music sites gone before it.