Lawsuit Accuses Grooveshark of Using Own Workforce to Upload Pirated Music

Pulkit Chandna

Grooveshark is no stranger to lawsuits having been sued countless times. But the latest lawsuit, even though it's from a familiar foe, seems to be a bit different. Universal Media group on Friday filed a fresh lawsuit against the online music streaming service , accusing it of running a massive music uploading effort internally. Hit the jump for more.

Hitherto, Grooveshark has been claiming that it is protected under DMCA's safe-harbor provisions (Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act), which limits the liability of online service providers as long as they adhere to certain guidelines. But that whole argument falls apart the moment someone is able to prove that Escape Media, Grooveshark’s parent company, willfully infringes on a content owner’s copyrights.

That is exactly what Universal is trying to do with this lawsuit. In fact, its accusations are very serious and rather damning. In its complaint, Universal alleges that Escape Media runs a massive internal music uploading effort directly overseen by the top brass.

“The business records of Escape Media Group, Grooveshark's parent company,] establish unequivocally that the sound recordings illegally copied by Escape's executives and employees, include thousands of well known sound recordings owned by UMG,” reads the complaint filed by Universal in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

What’s more, the label has accused Grooveshark’s top management of themselves uploading thousands of songs. The complaint accuses Grooveshark's CEO Samuel Tarantino, senior vice president Paul Geller and VP of public relations Benjamin Westermann-Clark of uploading 1,791, 3,453 and 4,600 pirated songs, respectively.

For good measure, the complaint also cites comments made by an anonymous poster claiming to be a Grooveshark employee on the Digital Music News blog. Commenting on a blog post titled "King Crimson Can't Get Their Music Off of Grooveshark,” this poster claimed that the staff was “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 poster then detailed this alleged assignment system: “All search results are monitored and when something is tagged as ‘not available’, it get’s [sic] queued up to our lists for upload. You have to visualize the database in two general sections: ‘known’ stuff and ‘undiscovered/indie/underground’. The ‘known’ stuff is taken care internally by uploads. Only for the ‘undiscovered’ stuff are the users involved as explained in some posts above.”

“Practically speaking, there is not much need for users to upload a major label album since we already take care of this on a daily basis,” the anonymous poster further wrote.

Besides $150,000 per song (maximum available), the label wants the court to grant a permanent injunction against Grooveshark.

Image Credit: Grooveshark

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