Paul Resnikoff, founder and publisher of Digital Music News, said today that the website will not be complying with Grooveshark's subpoena for information regarding an anonymous commenter's claims that Grooveshark knowingly uploads unlicensed music to its site.
"The main point is that we just don't have any information to give them," said Resnikoff to Billboard.biz. "There's nothing that we can hand over, and for that reason this is an exercise in futility. It's not information that's available."
The music streaming service sent a subpoena to the DMN offices this weekend in response to the comments, which were posted October 17 on a story written by Resnikoff earlier that month regarding King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp's difficulties in getting his band's music removed from Grooveshark's library. In the comments, a user claiming to be a Grooveshark employee asserted that not only could the band not get its music removed from the site (as management "knows [they] can't afford to sue for infringement") but that there was a coordinated and planned system for uploading unlicensed content that came from within the company's administration.
The comments, which Resnikoff said came to his attention a day later after they had been reposted around the site, have been included in a lawsuit filed in November by Universal Music Group, in a suit later joined by Sony and Warner Music Group, against Grooveshark, and is being cited as evidence of a company-wide practice of willful copyright infringement, according to the New York Times.
The subpoena, which Resnikoff published in its entirety earlier this week, demanded information about the commenter, including the person's name, address, phone number and email address. However, DMN does not ask for any such information from commenters that choose to remain anonymous, and while an IP address and potential identifying data would be recorded, the site flushes that data from all its commenters after 24 hours.
"It's a privacy thing; we don't want someone to perform some witch hunt on who is posting what comments," said Resnikoff. "We'd rather not allow a third party to come in and snoop through our servers and find out people's identities. That's just not the environment we want to create."
But that, said Resnikoff, is precisely what Grooveshark and its parent company Escape Media Group is trying to do. "They are attempting to pry open our database and find out information about this person," he said. "We are committed to protecting the sources of all of our information, this included."
Digital Music News officially responded to the subpoena in a letter that they posted on their website today, saying that they "refuse to be intimidated" and that "in turn, we expect people who support journalistic freedoms to stand with us, and we also expect to successfully defend our rights in this situation."
All of this comes during what was already a bad week for Grooveshark, as it announced yesterday that it was pulling out of Germany due to "unreasonably high" licensing costs levied by GEMA, the German music rights holding company, despite GEMA noting in a statement to Billboard that it was not the heft of the licensing costs that caused the shutdown, but the fact that Grooveshark was "generally refusing to pay any remunerations of any kind."
With all four major U.S. record labels all engaged in lawsuits against the company - EMI filed suit earlier this month, citing breach of contract - the pressure continues to mount against Grooveshark. The company has stated that it is determined to continue, but the question that bears repeating is, for how long?