United States District Judge Thomas Griesa ruled against Escape Media Group, Grooveshark’s parent company, as well as co-founders Samuel Tarantino, CEO, and Joshua Greenberg, chief technology officer, for uploading 5,997 songs without the proper licenses.
Founded in 2007, the online music-streaming company took refuge under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a federal law that protects websites hosting third-party material as long as they are in compliance with takedown notices from copyright holders.
Unfortunately, with upwards of 20 million songs in its online library and 30 million visitors monthly, the uploads are not subject to “safe harbor” immunity, according to Griesa.
“The court finds that plaintiffs have established a factual record demonstrating defendants’ direct infringement of plaintiffs’ copyright protected works,” the judge said.
He ruled in favor of the nine record companies, including Warner Bros. and Sony, that the songs have been illegally streamed over 36 million times. Grooveshark is considering an appeal with its legal defense.
In a company-wide forum post dating back to 2007, Greenberg instructed employees to:
“please share as much music as possible from outside the office, and leave your computers on whenever you can…There is no reason why ANYONE in the company should not be able to do this, and I expect everyone to have this done by Monday…IF I DON’T HAVE AN EMAIL FROM YOU IN MY INBOX BY MONDAY, YOU’RE ON MY OFFICIAL S**T LIST.”
In addition to the copyright infringement, Greenberg and other employees were found to have destroyed evidence, such as files documenting uploads.
Griesa ordered both sides to propose a permanent injunction within 21 days to avoid further violations. The seven-year-old company is still facing two other copyright suits from the music industry, in both a federal and state court.
Damages in the case have yet to be established, but may be close to the multi-million dollar range. The potential financial burden has some questioning the company’s monetarily viable future.