Grooveshark is often attacked for its “too good to be true” business model– after years of watching the RIAA win astronomical judgments against file-sharers and the whole Napster brouhaha, users are wary of getting their asses hauled into court for streaming a Katy Perry song.
Indeed, many people at this point are jaded about even listening to a track they haven’t paid someone, somewhere 99 cents for, and reps from the service have been attacked on social media sites for that very reason. Users have become extremely efficient at handing over rights and freedoms for fear of possibly violating those of a corporation just in principal, which is kind of sad. Grooveshark has struck back at this attitude in an open letter, asserting that their service operates legally and under DMCA protection.
In an open letter on Digital Music News, Paul Gellar of Grooveshark strikes back at the idea that if a service is convenient to music consumers and intuitive to use, it somehow must be illegal:
Yet some are confused as to how we are legal. First, there is a distinction between legal and licensed. Laws come from Congress. Licenses come from businesses. Grooveshark is completely legal because we comply with the laws passed by Congress, but we are not licensed by every label (yet). We are a technology company, and we operate within the boundaries of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). Some would have you believe that those of us who use the DMCA to innovate are inherently infringers and that claiming Safe Harbor under the DMCA is as good as admitting guilt. Not so.
(One space after periods, Gellar, one space. You’re messing up my formatting.) Gellar points to action the service has taken to prevent infringement and protect copyright as an argument against the service breaking laws willy-nilly:
We pay for our streams, and we actively negotiate with virtually every single content owner. We’ve taken down over 1.76 million files and suspended upload privileges to 22,274 users. These are not the characteristics of a company “dedicated to copyright infringement”. As we work with artists and labels to make more content available to our users, Grooveshark becomes more competitive as an alternative to piracy.
In light of the recent misleading press concerning Grooveshark’s application, it is important to make clear that we will defend our service, and the letter and the spirit of the law, in court and in Congress. We will defend our name and our ideals for the sake of our users who expect modern delivery systems and comprehensive access across devices, for the sake of artists and content owners who fear another decade of decline, and for other innovators who continue to bring new ideas to market through the expression of creativity in the form of technology.
The letter concludes with a plea for Google and Apple to restore the Grooveshark app to their respective app stores. It will be interesting to see how Grooveshark’s status shakes out, but sadly, it doesn’t seem the app’s team will be able to stand up to the massive corporate interests seeking to suppress the service. Do you think Grooveshark has a shot, or are they already fighting a losing battle?