Grooveshark Subpoenas Digital Music News for Confidential Whistleblower Information…

Grooveshark attorneys are now exerting heavy legal pressure on Digital Music News, with the goal of outing a very problematic whistleblower.  Just this weekend, our offices received a mountain of subpoena paperwork from Grooveshark attorneys McPherson Rane LLC, a Los Angeles-based firm headed by celebrity lawyer Ed McPherson.  The aggressive and broad-reaching subpoena is designed to force the disclosure of the identity of the anonymous whistleblower, and gain access to any and all correspondence between Digital Music News, Grooveshark employees and plaintiff Universal Music Group.

The whistleblower, who surfaced as an anonymous commenter in this Digital Music News article late last year, could potentially bury Grooveshark and its parent, Escape Media Group.  The comment, itself buried in more than 100 responses, prompted a massive lawsuit from Universal Music Group, and the eventual participation of Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.  EMI Music will soon be roped by acquisition, while EMI Music Publishing has filed a separate action.  The Universal lawsuit, currently being heard in New York State Supreme Court, alleges that Grooveshark employees are instructed to upload copyrighted recordings into the application, thereby nullifying any protections afforded by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The far-reaching subpoena from Grooveshark is probably based on the assumption that Digital Music News is small enough to be intimidated, legally or otherwise.  That could prove a drastic miscalculation, especially considering a wide body of legal protections and precedents that protect journalists and their whistleblower sources, not to mention a determination by this publication to protect all informants.  The subpoena action may also stir additional information from unfriendly sources, which could be entered into the case and prove incredibly damaging to Grooveshark’s defense effort.

Separately, we’re also awaiting potential legal demands from litigant Universal Music Group.  The major is certainly throwing its legal weight around, with a long-running ‘legal jihad’ against Grooveshark. But its latest case seems a bit flimsy, especially given the anonymous and unsubstantiated identity of the whistleblower in question.  Which may be a prelude to another legal chapter in this case.

Specifically, the Grooveshark subpoena demands the following information (transcribed verbatim from the subpoena itself).

(1) Any and all correspondence or other communications between DMN and UMG concerning Escape, Grooveshark or the Article.

(2) Any and all documents concerning the correspondence or other communications described in the immediately preceding request.

(3) Any and all documents concerning the identity of the First Anonymous Commenter, including, without limitation, that person’s name, address, telephone number and e-mail address, and the IP Address and ISP associated with that person, as well as any other information that would assist Escape in ascertaining the identity of that person and/or the geographic location from which that person transmitted to DMN the written comments described in Definition G, above.

(4) Any and all documents concerning the identity of the Second Anonymous Commenter (to the extent that person is, or may be, someone different than the First Anonymous Commenter), including, without limitation, that person’s name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address, and the IP address and ISP association with that person, as well as any other information that would assist Escape in ascertaining the identity of that person and/or the geographic location from which that person transmitted to DMN the written comments described in Definition H, above.

The complete subpoena document is here.

And, this is the comment that’s caused such a fuss.

 

87 Responses

    • anon
      anon

      All you “content rights owners” need to wake the FUCK up! Grooveshark is NOT the enemy, they are your CASH COW!

      None of you bigwigs have a freaking clue, look at all of them trying to shove SOPA down our throat. LEARN TO ADAPT WITH TECHNOLOGY.

      Take a look at Pandora, Spotify, even Youtube. These are services that ADAPTED sensibly to provide a legal service where everyone is happy.

      And guess what….every one of the services above were ONCE ILLEGAL. But some smart entrepenuers SAW the potential and swooped it up.

      You retards in the record industry need to get a fucking clue! Approach Grooveshark with open arms and buy them out…or work something out! I guarantee Grooveshark would be chomping at the bits to setup a subscription service.

      Grooveshark = no need for expensive production, free advertisements, a monthly income in a form of subscriptions no matter what kind of GARBAGE music you spew….the list can go on.

      Reply
      • Sharks can't fly
        Sharks can't fly

        New meaning for “cash cow”, ladies and gentlemen:
        cash cow = a company that pays you nothing
        Thanks for the tip, can’t wait to invest in Grooveshark once they share their internal data with the public. Challenge accepted?

        Reply
  1. In the business
    In the business

    Really? So, Digital Music News believes that Grooveshark does not have the right to face it’s accuser/whistle blower? You are willing to hide behind the “Journalist” curtain? I call bullshit on Digital Music News.
    There is “case” law that will determin if this is a Whistle Blower situation and if Digital Music News has any foundation to hide by hide the “Journalist” curtan.
    I am not a fan of Grooveshark. Nor am I of Digital Music news is half the shit you report is a joke and the other half is Bublegum Writing.
    I am a fan of the Consitution and Business Law. Journalist are to quick to run to their ” Don’t ask me because my source is a whistle blower” defense.
    I’m a bet’n man and I lay down Big Chips that You will comply and you will be forced to turn over the “evidence” accusing Grooveshark of “Wrong Doing”.
    Now, allow me to get back to making HOUSE MUSIC and gearing up for IBIZA 2012. The rest of this shit is Non-sense.

    Reply
          • PR 101
            PR 101

            Well, if he is a well known House artist and he wants to support Grooveshark, why does he make posts anonymously? It would really help Grooveshark if some artists spoke publicly for the company…

    • Visitor
      Visitor

      I think they should be able to protect their commentors. But there is no way in hell an “anonymous” comment on a blog should be allowed as evidence for anything. UMG should probably get penalizied for that.

      Reply
      • Lolz
        Lolz

        I can’t believe that this case has gotten as far as it has. An entire case built off an anonymous comment on an obscure news site!? WTF? So if I went made a new account on lifehacker and said that Sony had a major design flaw resulting in harmful radiation, one that they had specifically overlooked, the American public would sue Sony? This case should just be thrown out. Btw, I agree that journalists shouldn’t automatically go for the “It’s from a whistleblower!” response. Stand by what you say and be prepared to personally accept responsibility for when it fails, or don’t support it.

        Reply
        • Oh boy
          Oh boy

          Journalists can’t work with whistleblowers, because it is against Grooveshark’s financial interests? Good luck telling that in court.

          Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          Digital music news IS standing by it’s statements of privacy. They said that the commentor would remain anonymous, and they are fighting hard to be of their word.

          Reply
      • Nope.
        Nope.

        Please don’t pretend to be a lawyer on the internets.
        f the anonymous comment is similar to the contents of various Grooveshark internal emails, then UMG has the right to use it. It is not the only thing making their case, anyway. Grooveshark failed to respect numerous DMCA notices, remember?

        Reply
  2. Aspen, CO
    Aspen, CO

    Pretty Sure this is the eventual outcome of DMN’s journalist claim:
    Chicago Judge Says CA Blogger not a Journalist
    Still, agreed, this could be really dumb on Grooveshark’s part. I mean, what if it turns out that the annoymous poster was telling the truth, or even just partially telling the truth. There seems to be a lot of disgruntled current or maybe ex-grooveshark employees making comments on this blog. Or maybe there is just a bunch of people pretending.

    Reply
  3. Interesting situation
    Interesting situation

    So:
    Grooveshark opposes SOPA, because, as most of the United States tech industry claims, “it will harm free speech on the internet”.
    And at the same time, taking advantage of already existing legislation, Grooveshark demands to find out and publicly expose the identity of a whistleblower. The identity of a person who dared to exercised his/her right to free speech on the internet.
    I wonder what the tech industry has to say about this. Could someone send the link for this thead to Hacker News, please?
    I want to know what “free speech” really means for the tech companies. “Speak your mind freely”? Or “speak your mind freely as long as you don’t mess with our business/interests”?

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      The comments of this poster are the basis of major lawsuits against Grooveshark. Grooveshark needs the identity of this person in order to prove that the allegations levied against it as a company are false. Free speech does have consequences. You cannot slander or libel someone without consequences. What if the poster of that comment turns out to be a plant and originates from a UMG IP address? How can you not understand that Grooveshark is within their rights here?

      Reply
      • that's double standards
        that's double standards

        See, if someone takes your post and replaces “Grooveshark” with “DoD” or “Pentagon”, we are then talking about Wikileaks. What if the operation of Wikileaks originates from a government ip address in Russia? Or China? Hey, let’s reveal the identity of all Wikileaks activists, just to make sure that they are not FSB operatives. Sounds stupid to me. And really undemocratic. I would go as far as to call it fascist.

        Reply
    • anon
      anon

      All you “content rights owners” need to wake the FUCK up! Grooveshark is NOT the enemy, they are your CASH COW!

      None of you bigwigs have a freaking clue, look at all of them trying to shove SOPA down our throught. LEARN TO ADAPT WITH TECHNOLOGY.

      Take a look at Pandora, Spotify, even Youtube. These are services that ADAPTED sensibly to provide a legal service where everyone is happy.

      And guess what….every one of the services above were ONCE ILLEGAL. But some smart entrepenuers SAW the potential and swooped it up.

      You retards in the record industry need to get a fucking clue! Approach Grooveshark with open arms and buy them out…or work something out! I guarantee Grooveshark would be chomping at the bits to setup a subscription service.

      Grooveshark = no need for expensive production, free advertisements, a monthly income in a form of subscriptions no matter what kind of GARBAGE music you spew….the list can go on.

      Reply
  4. D.V.
    D.V.

    It would be very very funny, entertaining and educative at the same time, if the Grooveshark employee in questiond used a proxy to make that post.
    Because, well, then what, Grooveshark boys and girls?
    Would you go after let’s say a Tor server admin from California and try to force them to cooperate with you?
    What if it is a proxy site based in the EU? Or Russia? Would you ask for the admin to be extradicted to the US?
    You don’t give a shit about free speech. We all know that. You just went ahead and proved it to the general public!

    Reply
    • Lawyer guy
      Lawyer guy

      If you’re right and that’s how the post was made then Grooveshark wins. If the “whistleblower” is merely repeating something he/she heard or was told to say, it’s hearsay and inadmissible (other than in limited circumstances, a witness cannot testify to what someone else told them).
      If this evidence is not competent then Grooveshark could get the case tossed out before further discovery – thus even if the statement is true, no one will know because the plaintiffs won’t get a chance to prove it. Not only are they aware of the possibility you’re suggesting, they’re hoping for it.

      Reply
      • "Wins"?!

        Grooveshark wins by revealing the identity of a person who exercised his/her right to free speech?
        If Grooveshark wins by attacking free speech, who loses?
        Let’s see if you dare to come up with a reasonable answer to this.

        Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          How do you know this person is indeed a whistleblower and not a former employee with an axe to grind making the accusation up? This is the basis of the subpeona.

          Reply
          • that's creepy
            that's creepy

            So, former employees of Grooveshark don’t have the right to free speech online? Interesting.
            Could you please remind us all why Brandley E. Manning is accused of by the US government?

  5. Calling Anonymous...
    Calling Anonymous...

    Information wants to be free. I want to see all Grooveshark internal documents, memos, financial details e.t.c. in an neat torrent on Pirate Bay. Come on, Anonymous. A company is trying to hunt down a whistleblower. Do your thing.

    Reply
  6. 12212012X
    12212012X

    Seems the current fad for most social startups, allow questionable media content so as to paste ads around or charge a membership fee. Meanwhile, the Googles, Facebook, Groovesharks dance around venture capital firms or go public with only a hand slap while billions are looted from the creators.
    Even the government does not get it, yet most artist voted for these career freeloaders.
    One thing is clear, the yellow brick road leads to nowhere and you’ll never find your way back to Kansas.
    Courage, brains, heart?.

    Reply
  7. @madktc
    @madktc

    I’m very curious given the recent Crystal Cox vs. Kevin Padrick case if DMN has protection here.
    FWIW: Paul I think you’re a respected and informative source to the music industry.

    Reply
  8. MisterSoftee
    MisterSoftee

    Grooveshark: you are proving to everyone you are lying scumbags and thiefs. Thanks for stealing from every artist and screwing over every label and publisher you deal with. Just wait cuz paybacks gonna be a real bitch.

    Reply
  9. Jason Miles
    Jason Miles

    It always seems to be one thing or another with Grooveshark. I can’t see how they have abright future with everybody constantly after them with one lawsuit after another. All this action would not make me feel good if I was an investor
    Have they turned a profit yet?

    Reply
  10. Peter W
    Peter W

    So, basically Grooveshark is following what the government did against Wikileaks and soldier B.M.
    Why am I not surprised.

    Reply
  11. Call EFF!
    Call EFF!

    Hey Paul, you should ask for EFF’s support on this. They are devoted in protecting free speech online. I am sure they will offer you help and support.
    Legal Assistance from EFF

    Reply
      • Call EFF!
        Call EFF!

        If EFF cares about free speech, they have to fight agaist Grooveshark. How could they deny help to Paul/Digital Music News?

        Reply
        • Not at all like Wikileaks...
          Not at all like Wikileaks...

          Because free speech law sdoesn’t protect against libel.
          Grooveshark aren’t trying to hunt down a commenter and have them arrested (not only do they have no power to do that, but an IP wouldn’t be grounds enough for it), they’re trying to defend themselves against a comment that was used against them in court.

          Reply
          • Libellula
            Libellula

            The things Grooveshark people told each other via e-mail are far worse than what the whistleblower posted on DMN. I guess you haven’t read the Grooveshark e-mails yet? Can’t be that hard to use Google Search.

          • Oh,
            Oh,

            I read them. Please explain what was so terrible that it was worse than a governmental coverup.

          • Shallow enough?
            Shallow enough?

            So, whistleblowers can only talk about the government? That’s the kind of society you want? Companies’ coverups to be left in the dark for ever?

  12. bastards
    bastards

    Grooveshark has the time and money to hunt down anonymous posters on blogs, but they don’t have the time and money to handle DMCA notices.

    Reply
  13. Me & Stuff
    Me & Stuff

    I doubt DMN can successfully quash this subpoena. It is very important to note that the individual at issue was not an employee of DMN, or the writer of the blog post to which the comment was posted. Rather, this guy is just a random person commenting on a blog post on the internet.

    Even if DMN engages in journalism (and I think it does), this guy could never been construted as a journalist or informant. He didn’t contact a staff writer at DMN and inform them of anything confidentially, which then resulted in a published piece of journalism. To the contrary, he publically, and without any expectation of confidentiality, commented on a piece of journalism with information that, unless true, constitutes serious lible/slander and intefereance with Groovesharks business relationships. Such is actionable.

    If DMNs positon with regard to the subpoena is legitimate, than any person could freely libel/slander any one or thing – potentially doing serious harm to a totally innocent business – by speaking as a random commenter in well known trade blogs relevant to that industry or person, then hiding behind a claim they were somehow a “confidential informant” simply because they chose not to substantiate their claim with any evidence or identify themselves. Such would evicerate the protections our laws afford us regarding slander and libel. An absurd result.
    HOWEVER, posting this article and purporting to stand by those that leak newsworth information or particularly salacious info clearly serves DMN’s business interests – it encourages the conduct which, of course, results in more hits, more reads, more press, more PR for DMN and ultimately, more income. I’d probably make the same business decision. For DMN, this is one worth fighting and loosing. If it wins (long shot) then it’s all upside. If it looses, it still got a lot of upside and goodwill on its hands. i don’t view this article as much more complicated than that.

    Reply
  14. mdti
    mdti

    I don’t understand that the subpoena mention a publication of “business records”…
    does it mean the comment is actually a business record ??
    interesting 😉

    Reply
  15. ex@Grooveshark-employee
    ex@Grooveshark-employee

    I resigned from Grooveshark some time ago. The day I told them I was not comfortable working there any longer, the top guys made some really awful threats against me. I really hope Anonymous pays them a “visit”.

    Reply
    • Pissed at the authorities righ
      Pissed at the authorities righ

      Dear FBI Florida, please quit sticking magnetic GPS devices on cars of Middle East uni students and do some actual work to justify our tax money. It can’t be that hard to have a look at Grooveshark. No?

      Reply
    • I could say I'm Paul Resnikoff
      I could say I'm Paul Resnikoff

      I could say the same thing about working for Digital Music News if I wanted… There is no name verification on DMN and they don’t even ask for an email. So ex@Grooveshark-employee, would you care to prove that you work at Grooveshark as you say you do? Or would anyone making comments on this blog like to verify who they are?

      Reply
      • Obey!
        Obey!

        Would you like us to upload a scan of a government issued document (driver’s license, passport, etc)? Or do we have to send a notary-stamped copy to Grooveshark’s headquarters, just to exercise our right to free speech online?

        Reply
  16. George
    George

    What if the commentor claiming to be an “employee” was working under a non-disclosure agreement when the comment was made?

    Reply
    • Free Speech.
      Free Speech.

      Well, that’s why we call them “whistleblowers”. They need to protect their identities…
      By the way, in case you are wondering: No, NDAs can’t protect companies from the concequences of breaking the law. Otherwise the cartels and the gangs would be signing NDAs all day long…

      Reply
  17. Random Anon
    Random Anon

    I find it really funny these calls for Anonymous in the qouted comment of the article and the comments of this article.
    Just FYI? Not your personal army, dngaf about this. Srsly, u think Anons are gonna target a company like grooveshark for badmouthing and disrepect to big music corporations? Really? Are u that stupid? Remember OpPayback before moralfags took it to wikileaks or are u just bandwagonfags since optunisia?
    Bet u dollars to donuts an hour in the hive and Grooveshark will have its own Anon army. Just saying, history speaking? Siding with those who raep big music corps is sorta the thing.
    DMN-
    Information is free but whistleblowers (aka irlanons) should protect themselves. And aint got no probs with u protecting them. again, wdgaf.
    Commentors-
    If U want something done on this in an “Anonymous” theme, gtf off ur butt and do something about it. Don’t baw for others to come fix ur problems, got better shit to do than be ur personal army, and if it aint important enough for u to mobilze? Aint important enough for us to back it.
    Be ur own whiteknight.
    protip; learn wtf vpns are if ur gonna keep callin for Anon, srsly some of u are just asking for raep.

    Reply
    • Warren
      Warren

      PRO-TIP: Hackers don’t write like 14 year old virgin boys on MSN. And they don’t use VPNs to post on music tech blogs. Because the FBI already has 4 out of 5 hackers working for them. They won’t find that fifth one trolling on DMN.

      Reply
  18. Musician
    Musician

    I thought the anonymous post from the supposed “Grooveshark employee” had the ring of truth, didn’t you?
    I applaud Paul Resnikoff and Digital Music News for publishing the post and refusing to comply with the sub-poena. However, if the person *is* identified by some means, it would help clear up some of the misinformation flying around about this case.
    Personally I think Grooveshark are thoroughly dishonest and unethical, but that’s just my opinion.

    Reply
    • Rona
      Rona

      Except that this was a press release coordinated by UMG. Just like everything else on this website, there’s nothing to corroborate what I say, but it’s the absolute truth. The truth is that Grooveshark’s failed up to this point to prove why ‘old school’ labels should instantly become business savvy and choose a competitive market over a monopolistic one and investing in a company other than Spotify (which is another failure based on assumedly unsustainalbe deals in the long term). The billion dollar media corporations are out to send Grooveshark to their grave. It’s sad really. Our industry’s so effed up at the moment. The only take away I get comfort in is that the major labels as we currently see them lose more power every year.

      Reply
      • Musician
        Musician

        >The billion dollar media corporations are out to send Grooveshark to their grave.
        Yes – not an edifying spectacle on the face of it, but it will help many small companies and artists whose recordings Grooveshark are ripping off daily.
        >The only take away I get comfort in is that the major labels as we currently see them lose more power every year.
        Can’t be bad. Major labels have got away with ripping off artists for too long. Moral in all this: act ethically and pay bands a fair share (unlike Spotify).

        Reply
  19. Red
    Red

    Wow, reading this is confirming every thought I’ve had as I’ve tried to get my music taken down from Grooveshark. They’ve pretty much made it impossible for me to do so, to the point where i’ve sent them dozens of letters, dmca notices etc. and my music is still there, and I basically give up. It makes total sense that they see artists as the enemy. That’s exactly how they’ve treated me for trying to get my music removed from their shady little site.

    Reply

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