A federal judge in New York said late Monday that free music streaming service Grooveshark has infringed on thousands of major label copyrights. The record labels have for years sought ways of taking the groove out of Grooveshark, and they may have finally managed it. Gainesville, Florida-based Grooveshark has long hidden from infringement allegations behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which says websites can not be held liable for hosting copyrighted materials as long as they provide copyright holders a mechanism for removing infringing material.
In the music industry’s second big legal victory in a week, a federal judge in New York ruled on Monday that Grooveshark, an online music service long vilified by the major record companies, infringed on thousands of their copyrights. Like Napster, LimeWire, Grokster and other online outlets before it, Grooveshark came under fierce attack from the recording industry for hosting music files without permission. Grooveshark — based in Gainesville, Fla., and identified in court papers by its parent company, Escape Media Group — makes millions of songs available for streaming. Yet despite numerous legal challenges, the service continued operating and building a huge audience in the years before the arrival of Spotify and other streaming outlets, which operate with the permission of record companies and music publishers. By 2011, Grooveshark — which has licenses for some of its music, but not all — claimed to have 35 million users and was attracting advertising from major brands like Mercedes-Benz and Groupon.