Online music sharing service Muxtape is offline, with a notice on the site saying only that “Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA.” The Muxtape blog doesn’t shed any more light on the matter, with a post stating that “No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned.” They also go on to note that “Beta users of Muxtape For Bands: you are unaffected by this outage.”
Muxtape is a cool little service that allows user to upload songs and share those songs in a traditional mix-tape format. The problem though legally lies with the fact that Muxtape hosts the music and as far as I know doesn’t pay any royalties on songs played on the site. CNet’s Geek Gastalt noted in April that the defense Muxtape was hiding behind was the DMCA provision of “‘hosting on behalf of users’ safe harbor” in a similar fashion to YouTube. However, unlike other services that rely on the search provisions (such as Seeqpod and MyPlaylist.biz), the problem with Muxtape is the hosting, and unlike YouTube who can mount some sort of argument that it doesn’t rely on pirated content alone, Muxtape was open season for any music uploads, and that’s always going to gain the attention of the record labels or their proxies such as a RIAA. Owen Thomas notes that the service also made it easy to users to download songs hosted on the site, a double copyright red flag if there ever was one.
I like this service, and it fills a need that once again isn’t being met by the heads in the sand music industry, but unless they pack their bags and move to Sweden, you’d have to think that they’d have to be completely screwed here, presuming that the RIAA has come a knocking.