Game over for Grooveshark? Labels granted summary judgement


Grooveshark logoControversial streaming music service Grooveshark suffered a damaging blow yesterday, when a federal US judge granted summary judgement against the company in its long-running legal battle with major labels.

Grooveshark has been found liable for copyright infringement, with its DMCA safe harbour defence quashed due to evidence that the company’s own employees had been uploading copyrighted songs to the service. Judge Thomas Griesa also ruled that Grooveshark had destroyed evidence in the lawsuit, which was filed back in 2011.

“By overtly instructing its employees to upload as many files as possible to Grooveshark as a condition of their employment, Escape engaged in purposeful conduct with a manifest intent to foster copyright infringement via the Grooveshark service,” ruled Griesa – Escape Media Group being Grooveshark’s parent company.

What comes next? A permanent injunction to prevent further infringement, and a damages bill that could run into several millions, with two more cases against Grooveshark pending in the US.

There also may be an appeal. “Escape respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision, and is currently assessing its next steps, including the possibility of an appeal,” the company’s attorney John Rosenberg told both Reuters and the New York Times.

Is there any way back for Grooveshark now? A successful appeal might enable the service to continue running, but how will its finances shape up, given the lengthy legal battle so far?

Grooveshark’s chances of securing licensing deals under its current management look slim, at best, even if we’ve seen before (with Napster, most obviously) scope for a controversial brand to be acquired and rebooted under new ownership.

But even if Grooveshark were to settle with labels, it is difficult to see the company getting the financial backing required to effectively compete with rivals from Spotify to YouTube and SoundCloud.

Written by: Stuart Dredge