A Timeline: Universal Music Group vs. Grooveshark vs. Digital Music News
Late last year Universal Music Group sued streaming music service Grooveshark claiming that they consciously pirated thousands of songs. Their lawsuit mentions anonymous comments at Digital Music News by someone claiming to be a Grooveshark employee, who states the above as a fact, as well as emails by Grooveshark executives that appear to reveal awareness of pirated music on the service.
As part of their legal defense, Grooveshark's legal team, on behalf of parent company Escape Media Group, subpoenaed a wide range of information including digital clues to the commenters identity in a form that Digital Music News' Paul Resnikoff states is impossible to provide and violates protections for whistleblowers.
In the document below, I have gathered statements regarding the progression of this music tech and media drama in order to provide an overview of this story (sections in bold are from the original source). Digital Music News provides copies of the legal document on the below linked posts, especially here. Take a close look and decide for yourself what's happening.
Timeline: Universal Music vs. Grooveshark vs. Digital Music News
The story of Grooveshark's legal action against Digital Music News in the context of Universal Music Groups' legal action against Grooveshark.
Storified by Flux Research · Thu, Apr 12 2012 03:18:37
"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."
"In Universal's complaint, the label pointed to the comments section of the blog Digital Music News. In a October 13 story titled 'King Crimson Can't Get Their Music Off of Grooveshark,' an anonymous writer claimed to be a Grooveshark employee and offered 'information from the trenches.'"
""Universal's claims rest almost entirely on an anonymous, blatantly false Internet blog comment and Universal's gross mischaracterization of information that Grooveshark itself provided to Universal."
"According to court documents obtained by Digital Music News early this morning, the latest lawsuit from Universal Music Group would saddle Grooveshark and its executives with more than $17 billion in damages if proven correct. And, just like the Limewire case, that likely includes punishing personal liabilities against top Grooveshark employees. "
"Grooveshark deliberately set out to build a huge online following without paying for the music it streamed and shared in order to establish a stronger negotiating position with record labels, according to internal emails included in court records [by Universal Music Group]."
"'The only thing that I want to add is this: we are achieving all this growth without paying a dime to any of the labels,' wrote Sina Simantob, Grooveshark's chairman, in an e-mail on Dec. 1, 2009…'We use the label's songs till we get a 100 (million) uniques, by which time we can tell the labels who is listening to their music, where, and then turn around and charge them for the very data we got from them…Let's keep this quite [sic] for as long as we can.'"
"Just this weekend, our offices received a mountain of subpoena paperwork from Grooveshark attorneys McPherson Rane LLC, a Los Angeles-based firm headed by celebrity lawyer Ed McPherson. The aggressive and broad-reaching subpoena is designed to force the disclosure of the identity of the anonymous whistleblower, and gain access to any and all correspondence between Digital Music News, Grooveshark employees and plaintiff Universal Music Group."
"Digital Music News is just a small enterprise, one committed to serving the relatively small industry in which your client, Escape Media Group and its division, Grooveshark, hopes to thrive. By contrast, my research suggests that you and your colleagues are among the most expensive and talented lawyers in the world, with very large and powerful clients. Edwin McPherson, for example, is a celebrated attorney who counts Lindsay Lohan among his clientele, among other celebrities…"
"Digital Music News does not retain records related to anonymous comments for more than 24-48 hours after the comment was published. In fact, we typically expunge all data related to them prior to 24 hours. Given that this whistleblower or 'Anonymous Commenter,' who only identifies himself/herself as a Grooveshark employee, left a comment in mid-October of 2011, there is no chance that we have retained any information outside of that which is viewable by the entire world."
"According to an email recently sent to a large number of industry executives, a top Grooveshark executive now suspects that Digital Music News is secretly conspiring with Universal Music Group to bring Grooveshark down."
"The very broad accusation came from Grooveshark SVP of External Affairs Paul Geller. 'If UMG is going to make an anonymous comment a key piece of evidence, I'm surprised [UMG executives] don't want to know who it is…You'll notice the subpoena also demands details of the relationship UMG had with DMN, which we believe to be nefarious.'"
"Beyond the paranoid aspects, the decision to broadcast this to a well-read industry list may also be part of a calculated PR effort."
"Grooveshark and its parent company, Escape Media Group, are now exerting heavy pressure on Digital Music News to enforce a subpoena related to an alleged whistleblower. The company is now marshalling the resources of two prestigious law firms – Rosenberg & Giger in New York, and McPherson Rane LLP in Los Angeles – and filing a court petition for subpoena enforcement while scheduling a hearing in LA Superior Court on May 15th…"
"In New York, the Escape legal team calls the anonymous comment 'implausible on its face,' and lacking '
even the barest trace of reliability,' and asks that the New York court disregard it as evidence. Yet somehow those very strong New York arguments were omitted from a stack of paperwork presented by Escape to Los Angeles judge Richard A. Stone, who is being told that identifying information surrounding this anonymous commenter is important to the defense of the New York case…"
"Judge Stone hasn't yet been briefed by the Escape-Grooveshark legal team on the lack of weight of the anonymous comments it argues in New York, at least judging from the deluge of paperwork we've seen. All of which raises the obvious question of whether this extremely time-consuming and expensive subpoena exercise makes any sense, or is merely wasting the finite resources of the court and Digital Music News. And, more importantly, potentially trampling on First Amendment, journalist Shield Law, and related privacy concerns, chilling the exercise of free speech. "
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his business writing hub at Flux Research and blogs about dance at All World Dance. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.