Grooveshark, UMG Preparing to Subpoena Digital Music News…

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

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 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.

20 Responses

  1. jhalkjhdl

    the commenter posts amount to good copy, but little else. the money shots are in that bumbling fraud chairman Simantob’s emails, particularly the one to UMG themselves. that guy comes off as the industry’s biggest wanker in an industry loaded with them.
    also, can the grooveswine get real on how valuable their “data mining” is? OLAP and other DB techniques to slice/dice data has been around for 20 years. every music service, especially ad-supported ones, use data mining techniques extensively already. do they think they can install pentaho and the labels will get in line to get some of that sweet, sweet consumption data? you think maybe vastly superior engineering organizations like spotify and apple are already setting the standard in this area and they give the labels visibility.
    I hope these guys cashed in on their local celebrity and lost their virginity while they could. party is over. the rank and file should think about relocating from the swamp to a city that houses legitimate music tech firms. they should do it now.

  2. How ironic.

    So, Grooveshark is making legal moves against a blog, in order to find out the identity of a whistleblower, who posted a comment on that particular blog.
    Isn’t this considered a plausible scenario or situation that the IT industry publicly and very outspokenly fears, related to SOPA? Meaning, that an entity or person (corporation, politician e.t.c.) will use this law to target a whistleblower?
    And, what if this whistleblower used let’s say a US based proxy or VPN to communicate the information in that post? Will Grooveshark then make legal moves against the related proxy/VPN company, in order to find out who the whistleblower is? What if the whistleblower used more than one US based proxies? Will then Grooveshark proceed to subpoena all of them? What if the related proxies/VPN were also based outside of the US? Whould Grooveshark go on to make legal moves in these various countries?
    That would be a very interesting development and a serious blow to the PR campaign of the IT industry against SOPA.

    • ha!

      Interesting, indeed. I think Grooveshark would cease&desist Pirate Bay if they woke up one day and found an internal data cache freely available as a torrent…

    • matter of time

      All these so called “tech” (my ass!) companies will eventually turn one against the other, due to conflict of interest…and greed!

      • No

        Thats what all the “Music” companies did long ago. Hehe. The techies are just picking up the pieces lying around the floor.

    • Dribbly

      Thanks for using these bold thingies, would be really hard to make out a point otherwise and adds a much needed air of self importance to your post.

  3. @madktc

    This is all interesting to follow as an avid digital music news reader. It just seems that UMG is on a witch hunt to shut down Grooveshark.
    Will anyone care if Grooveshark is or isn’t shut down?

    • Witches don't use e-mail

      Witch hunt?! You didn’t read Grooveshark’s e-mails on the various articles already online *everywhere*? They are bragging that they are doing the purrrfeKt Krime…

    • dope

      Are you an idiot? There have been plenty of witch hunts, this is not one them.

  4. celesta

    I’m feeling sexually attracted to Digital Music NEws right now.

  5. The whole lot

    King Crimson Can’t Get Their Music Off of Grooveshark. So They cc’d Digital Music News…
    This Morning, Grooveshark Sent Us This Angry Email…
    Grooveshark Whistleblower Provokes Another Universal Music Group Lawsuit…
    Grooveshark Is Now Facing $17 Billion In Damages…

  6. E.G.

    Paul, I think you have to be very clear on this, as lots of eyes are on DMN right now.
    Are you going to give the whistleblower to Grooveshark?
    You do understand that these guys are looking for revenge, right…?

  7. gaetano

    This has the potential to be as interesting as when Jon Stewart got Crossfire pulled off the air.

  8. Jason Miles

    I remember the night in Gainsville that I met a very young Sam Tarrintino and his friends who started Grooveshark in their dorm room. They were an innocent enthusiastic bunch who really wanted my advice on music and had a lofty idea how they were going to make it so artists get fairly paid for their work.As usual,the more I saw them over the next couple of years-the more things started to change and then POW-Money changes everything-This is not the same group and it is I’m sure now run by folks who don’t give a shit about artists or music. It’s about content and how they can get the most and make the most.
    This is where our digital world is totally headed to. There is very little money here for writers and artists but lots for all the deals that these Spotifies and Groovesharks make for themselves.
    Peace, Jason

  9. Anonymous

    Marshall Custer, making his professors feel ashamed of having him as a student:!/marshallcuster/status/138750952093122562
    “UMG made their complaint available to the press, which is the only reason we have a copy now. When you have a weak case, yell really loud!”
    federal crimes = weak case
    WHAT THE FUCK, professors? How did this kid get a degree? Were you all *that* high?

  10. Twitter chatter

    Grooveshark’s Harley Keiner seems to be very desperate to joke about the situation:
    “Ben and I are going to create an anonymous grooveshark employee twitter feed, make jokes, and then watch it get printed as fact.”

    • RocketScience Shark

      Seems very sleazy to me that Kevin Day’s Rocket Science would be in bed with Grooveshark…makes no sense. Rocket Science portrays themselves as the artists’ best friend, empowering artists to do it on their own, empowering them to sell and become sustainable.
      But then they affiliate with one of the sleaziest platforms that exists — Grooveshark?
      If I was an artist or manager thinking about entrusting my career with Rocket Science, I’d think twice…