Music Industry: Rulings Could Have Long-Term Consequences

In a 57-page decision issued this week, a New York federal judge ruled against music streaming service Grooveshark in a copyright infringement case. The judge ruled that the service’s parent company, Escape Media Group, and co-founders Samuel Tarantino and Josh Greenberg, had uploaded almost 6,000 songs without licenses, and urged their employees to do the same. Meanwhile, a California judge ruled in favor of musicians Flo & Eddie in a suit against SiriusXM, and now the duo is taking on Pandora.

news_02_smallGrooveshark’s 30 million monthly visitors listen to music for free that has largely been uploaded by other users. Judge Thomas Griesa determined that the company and its founders had destroyed records of the files they had uploaded.

“Groooveshark’s library includes about 20 million songs,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “It has licensing agreements with some record labels and publishers but not with the major record companies that sued the music site: Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Access Industries’ Warner Music Group and Sony’s Sony Music Entertainment.”

The Florida-based company argued that it was protected under the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A Grooveshark spokesman said the company “respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision and is currently assessing its next steps, including the possibility of an appeal.”

In a related story, a California federal judge ruled in favor of Flo & Eddie of The Turtles regarding a lawsuit against SiriusXM over the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings.

“The plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages, but the money is hardly the only consequence of a ruling on Monday that could eventually disrupt the operations of the satellite radio giant as well as other services like Pandora,” explains The Hollywood Reporter.

“SiriusXM is facing another lawsuit from the RIAA in California as well as more lawsuits from Flo & Eddie in other states. Pandora is also facing a lawsuit by record labels in New York. And the ruling potentially opens the floodgates to more litigation on the issue of pre-1972 music.”

Flo & Eddie are using state-based misappropriation and unfair competition claims since sound recordings only began falling under federal copyright protection in 1972. Yesterday, the duo filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Pandora.

“The radio dial — whether it’s satellite like SiriusXM, web like Pandora or terrestrial like iHeartMedia — might never be the same,” suggests THR in a related article.