If the BPI was successful in its bid to persuade, and possibly force, the internet service providers of this fair isle to block access to The Pirate Bay, could Grooveshark be the next target?
An anti-piracy group in Denmark is taking legal action to try and force ISPs in the country to stop customers from accessing the sometimes controversial streaming music service, which has licensing deals in place with some music companies, but which carries content from many more because users are allowed to upload tunes.
In the US, Grooveshark claims that it operates a takedown system where it removes any unlicensed content if made aware of it, and therefore is not liable for copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Whether that interpretation of the DMCA is correct will be assessed if and when Universal v Grooveshark reaches court.
Some argue precedents set in previous court cases based on the DMCA’s so called safe-harbour provisions mean Grooveshark has a strong case. Others allege that Grooveshark management pay only lip service to the takedown system, and that their takedown activities should not constitute a defence. And if they were to prevail in court, it is possible that the Recording Industry Association Of America would begin lobbying for a change in the DMCA to set out the minimum requirements of a takedown process in order to get safe-harbour protection.
But, of course, none of this applies in Denmark, where Grooveshark would have to defend itself under local copyright law. According to Torrentfreak, Maria Fredenslund of the anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen has told local media that she is certain Grooveshark is not compliant with local laws and that there is a strong case to force ISPs to block access to the service through the courts.
She said: “When you want to offer music on the Danish market, one must have an agreement with rightholders to do so. Grooveshark does not and has been completely uncooperative”, adding: “We are in a situation where the [digital music] market will die if Grooveshark continues”.
A Grooveshark spokesman told Digital Music News earlier this week that they had not received any paperwork or contact regarding the action against them in Denmark, though it would probably be for Danish ISPs to respond to RettighedsAlliancen’s claim rather than the Grooveshark company directly.
As previously noted, Grooveshark’s main major ally in the music space to date has been EMI, who settled a legal action and licensed the streaming platform. Of course the EMI labels are now being bought by Grooveshark’s biggest enemy in the music space, Universal.