Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group have joined Universal Music Group in a legal complaint against online music streaming service Grooveshark and parent company Escape Media.
The amended complaint, filed Thursday in a New York district court, brings all three of the major label groups together in alleging that the site has “willfully infringed” upon the companies’ copyrights.
Grooveshark, a Florida-based streaming service that allows users to post their own music to the site for other users to stream, has heretofore argued its protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which exempts the company from damages for infringement perpetuated by users on its site, provided the infringing material in question is taken down upon request. The complaint, however, alleges that the site’s owners knowingly profited from unlicensed music, and even that employees may have themselves personally engaged in posting unauthorized music.
The complaint cites internal emails from Escape Media execs, including one in which a senior director claims to have “bet the company on the fact that it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.” The suit also quotes an anonymous comment posted on website Digital Music News, purportedly from a Grooveshark employee, describing practices that include bonuses for employees who upload certain amounts of music into the system.
The original action filed by UMG last month was not the first legal complaint against the company. An earlier suit from EMI eventually lead to the label licensing its catalogue to the site, making them the only one of the then four major label groups to do so. (Indie label group Merlin has also agreed to licensing terms with the company.) Musicians such as King Crimson and Pink Floyd have also publicly complained of difficulty in getting their music taken down from the site.
When reached for comment, Grooveshark provided the following statement: “We cannot comment on litigation we have not seen, but will aggressively defend our rights in court. … We respect the intellectual property of all artists, and our strict policies are designed to ensure that our users only upload content to which they are entitled. This is a policy which we vigorously enforce within DMCA requirements.”