Music service Grooveshark calls itself "the world's largest international community of music lovers." But a small number of co-founders and employees are also targets of Universal Music Group's lawsuit against the service's parent company, Escape Media Group.
The complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Billboard.biz, alleges the company's executives are personally behind violations of the DMCA's "safe harbor" provisions. One exhibit included in the claim is a post at Digital Music News that included an email thread between musician Robert Fripp, his team and Grooveshark. The correspondence regarded Fripp's request for the removal of his material from the site and those songs' quick reappearance.
As detailed in the complaint, a commenter claiming to be a Grooveshark employee described internal procedures for filling holes in the service's catalog. Following news of the lawsuit, a post at Digital Music News explains the blog has not ascertained the identity of the commenter and has not been contacted by Universal Music Group to verify the person's identity. Universal's complaint takes the commenter's identity on face value. No evidence is given to confirm the person's identity or role at the company.
The complaint also includes lists the quantities of files uploaded by Grooveshark executives and its employees. CEO Samuel Tarantino is alleged to have uploaded a "minimum" of 1,791 files. One quality assurance employee named in the complaint is alleged to have uploaded over 40,000 recordings. SVP External Affairs Paul Geller and VPs Benjamin Westermann-Clark and John Ashenden are also listed. In all, Universal's complaint claims executives and staff are responsible for at least 113,777 uploads. The complaint does not explain how Universal arrived at those figures, however.
Grooveshark offers a large number of both licensed and unlicensed recordings. The company has negotiated direct licenses with EMI and numerous independent labels and aggregators. But because it allows users to upload recordings, Grooveshark also has music owned by Universal Music Group and other companies with which it does not have licensing agreements.
The DMCA protects an online service from the infringing activities of its users in some specific situations. If a service has any direct knowledge of infringing content on its network, it must remove or disable access to that content before being contacted by the copyright owners.