Grooveshark’s employees illegally upload hundreds of thousands of copyrighted songs to the service to boost its usefulness. Universal Music produced emails from Grooveshark’s CEO in which he basically admitted that they were growing a tremendous user base “without paying a dime to any of the labels” – which doesn’t prove employees upload songs, but could throw a big dent in Grooveshark’s DMCA Safe Harbor claims. Oh yeah, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the emails apparently pissed off Sony and Warner, too, and now they’re likely gearing up to sue Grooveshark, too.
There's not a whole lot to like about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but one of the more onerous provisions of the law is a ban on circumvention of DRM and similar "technical protection measures". The decision handed down today from the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress has resulted in three exemptions in this law. That is, three situations where it is now acceptable to break digital protection schemes.
The first exemption allows users to "Jailbreak" an iPhone or other handset in order to run legally obtained, but unapproved software. Apple had previously hinted that this activity could be illegal under the DMCA. This change was done to enable consumers to increase the interoperability of their devices. The EFF also secured new protections for artists that make fair use of copyrighted content in video remixes, or mashups. Noncomercial artists are now permitted to break digital protection for this purpose. Get ready for some YouTube celebration mashups.
The last ruling is not a new provision, but rather a renewal of an existing exemption. The Librarian of Congress reaffirmed a 2006 rule that protects cell phone unlocking from prosecution under the DMCA. The locking of a phone to one carrier makes it harder to use or resell later. It's important to note that none of these new exemptions mean that companies have to stop using DRM, just that we are actually allowed to break it in more situations.