Spinrilla may be a relatively new player in the streaming marketplace, but it’s already caught the attention of several major record labels — that are suing the site for allegedly sharing unauthorized music with millions of users.
The Recording Industry Association of America on Friday sued Spinrilla and its founder Jeffery Dylan Copeland in Georgia federal court, on behalf of UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Corporation and LaFace Records.
Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Beyonce are among the artists that Spinrilla offers through its streaming site and app who aren’t being paid for the use of their music, according to the complaint. The description of the service evokes memories of Napster, the original music industry troublemaker.
“Through the Spinrilla website and apps, users with an artist account can upload content that any other user can then download or stream on demand for free, an unlimited number of times,” writes attorney James Lamberth in the complaint. “A substantial amount of content uploaded to the Spinrilla website and apps consists of popular sound recordings whose copyrights are owned by Plaintiffs.”
The RIAA says it has identified more than 21,000 copyrighted sound recordings owned by plaintiffs that are available through the service. The labels are suing for direct and secondary copyright infringement and are seeking actual or statutory damages and an injunction.
While this seems to be the first time Spinrilla has faced legal issues, this lawsuit echoes a long pattern of clashes between the RIAA and the mixtape industry. Long viewed as an illegal market of bootlegged copyrights, the RIAA led several lawsuits against mixtape retailers, both physical stores and digital outlets, throughout the 2000s, culminating in the high-profile raid and arrest of DJs Drama and Don Cannon in Atlanta in January 2007. That incident sent shock waves throughout the mixtape community and led high-profile sites like MixUnit.com to voluntarily distance themselves from the business, paving the way for the rise of sites like Datpiff and LiveMixtapes (and, eventually, Spinrilla) which essentially operate as free libraries for tapes and largely self-police and remove copyrighted content.
This lawsuit, however, targets not mixtapes but commercially-released and unauthorized albums and songs available through the service. And although Spinrilla has avoided lawsuits in the past, it’s not the first time the site has hosted copyrighted material: In 2015, a Universal employee claimed that the joint Drake and Future release What a Time to Be Alive was downloaded illegally more than one million times through Spinrilla and fellow upstart site My Mixtapez in less than a week after its Apple Music exclusive release.
The RIAA issued a statement about the lawsuit Friday: “Spinrilla specializes in ripping off music creators by offering thousands of unlicensed sound recordings for free. Fans today have access to millions upon millions of songs from innovative platforms and services that pay creators — this kind of illicit activity has no place in today’s music marketplace.”
Spinrilla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s worth noting the website features a section dedicated to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and includes a template for a takedown requests. “Spinrilla takes copyright infringement very seriously,” says the site. “In order to provide the best mixtapes and ensure top quality we do not allow infringed upon works to be posted on our website.”