Looks like we’ve got a ringside seat for the latest legal boxing match between UMG and Grooveshark. And the cost of admission? A subpoena.
The reason is that an anonymous comment on Digital Music News forms a major part of the recently-filed suit by Universal Music Group, one that accuses Grooveshark of knowingly infringing content and violating DMCA statutes. Which is exactly why Grooveshark legal counsel Marshall Custer contacted us this week. “While [Grooveshark parent] Escape [Media Group] certainly denies those allegations, and believes that Universal’s lawsuit has no merit, the anonymous comment in your publication, and related information, may be important to the lawsuit,” Custer informed us. “As a result, I must request that you preserve all electronic information and any other records related to that comment, as it can be reasonably anticipated that either Grooveshark or Universal may find it necessary to subpoena such information as the case progresses.”
The comment, allegedly from a Grooveshark staffer, outlines an employee policy of systematically uploading valuable songs, even if the content owner is demanding a takedown. Oddly, Universal Music Group has never contacted us regarding this comment, either before or after the legal filing. In fact, right after they filed the lawsuit, they called C|Net, if that tells you anything.
Well, here’s a letter with an undisputed owner – Grooveshark chairman Sina Simantob. And this looks more like an extortion scheme than a business model. “We use the label’s songs till we get 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, ensuring that what we pay them in total for streaming is less than what they pay us for data mining,” one email in the lawsuit states. “Let’s keep this quite for as long as we can.”
The complaint, filed in the US District Court in Manhattan, can be found here.