Universal Files New Grooveshark Lawsuit, Says Execs Uploaded 1000’s Of Pirated Songs

image from The sharks are circling in the waters around streaming music service Grooveshark, as Universal Music Group takes aim with a new lawsuit alleging that the site's execs conspired to illegally upload more than 100,000 songs. UMG has asked the court to shut Grooveshark down immediately and is seeking damages of $150,000 per infringement.

Music Blogger Drawn Into Lawsuit

Last year UMG filed a suit claiming copyright infringement on songs from their pre-1972 catalog and EMI filed and then settled a similar suit. In last Friday's filing, first reported by Greg Sandoval of CNet, UMG offers alleged proof including company e-mails and other documents that shows "that the sound recordings illegally copied by Escape's executives and employees, include thousands of well known sound recordings owned by UMG."

Included in the evidence presented by UMG is an comment on Digital Music News which the blog says it never vetted. The comment by an alleged Grooveshark employee states:

"We are assigned a predetermined amount of weekly uploads to the system and get a small extra bonus if we manage to go above that (not easy).The assignments are assumed as direct orders from the top to the bottom, we don't just volunteer to 'enhance' the Grooveshark database." 

Digital Music News publisher Paul Resniko admits he "did not attempt to clarify the identity" of the widely quoted commenter now central to the lawsuit.

Universal reportedly also claims it has evidence that Grooveshark CEO Samuel Tarantin uploaded more than 1,791 copyrighted songs, SVP Paul Geller 3,453 songs and VP Benjamin Westermann-Clark 4,600 tracks.

If UMG can prove that Grooveshark employees uploaded or encouraged the uploading of songs, the music serviceand its executives would likely be unable to continue to claim protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provision. 

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  1. I had personal experience with Grooveshark in their infancy, probably around the time, as the anonymous commenter mentioned, they were ordering employees to “enhance” the database.
    As far as I know, GS employees had a weekly quota of new users they had to sign up, not songs they had to upload. A friend and former GS employee asked me to sign up, as she needed to get 20 new people or lose her job.
    That might seem heavy-handed, but it’s not illegal. The problem is whether or not the GS employees uploaded copyrighted music themselves, or not. They are protected by the DMCA if it was their users who uploaded the content, which I hope it was.

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