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Grooveshark implicated in copyright infringement case; contemplates appeal

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United States-based free music-streaming service Grooveshark has found itself at the wrong end of a copyright infringement suit. A federal judge in New York has found the Grooveshark-employees guilty of massive copyright infringement as the major recording labels glided to a victory in the trial.

“Each time Escape streamed one of plaintiffs’ songs recordings, it directly infringed upon plaintiffs’ exclusive performance rights,” the judge wrote in his 57-page decision.

Accusing the Escape Media Group Inc.-owned ‘search engine’-cum-‘streaming service’-cum-‘recommendation application’ of having infringed upon copyrights of thousands of leading labels in the industry including Arista Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Recording, Elektra Entertainment Group, LaFace Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recording, Warner Brothers Records and Zomba Recording, the companies had been engaged in the legal battle for a long time now.

US District Judge Thomas P. Griesa pointed out in a Manhattan court that in 2007 the freemium service had expressly instructed its employees to “share as much music as possible from outside the office,” which according to him, constitutes “uncontroverted evidence” of direct infringement. 5,977 copyrighted music files had made their way to the website following this directive, which included songs by Eminem, Green Day, Jay-Z and Madonna, and so on.

Having sought refuge under the “safe harbour” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which states that websites cannot be held liable for hosting copyrighted materials if they provide a mechanism to the copyright-holders by virtue of which they are able to remove infringing material, Grooveshark has finally been apprehended. Chief executive Samuel Tarantino and chief technology officer Joshua Greenberg were both implicated. The court will establish damages in the subsequent phase of the trial.

The law firm representing Grooveshark said that “Escape respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision, and is currently assessing its next steps, including the possibility of an appeal.”