Online listening service Grooveshark could find itself without safe harbor, thanks to pending legal action. According to the Los Angeles Times, both Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have now joined Universal Music Group in a lawsuit claiming that Grooveshark is violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by allowing users to illegally upload and listen to unlicensed songs.
Universal originally took aim at Grooveshark last month, alleging that the company — owned by Escape Media Group of Gainesville, FL — has permitted widespread copyright infringement that was sanctioned by company executives. Sony and Warner added their lawsuit yesterday (Dec. 15).
Grooveshark asserts that it is protected under DMCA because the law allows “safe harbor” for companies to provide online storage or sharing, as long as the infringing material is removed upon request. Since its launch, it has accumulated over 30 million users to pay $5/month to listen to millions of tracks from all the major labels and beyond.
The lawsuit also accuses Grooveshark’s senior executives of personally uploading illegal sound recordings to the website in order to make sure it is always stocked with the most popular songs. A series of emails quoted in the court documents indicate that Grooveshark employees were fully aware of the violation and continued regardless. Back in September, Digital Music News reported on a tense exchange between King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and Grooveshark about the band’s repeated attempts to have their material removed, only to have it return to the site in a matter of days.
Grooveshark does currently have a license through EMI and numerous indies, though with EMI’s recent sale the future of that arrangement is uncertain.