Music streaming service Grooveshark has hit back against Universal Music Group, which filed a lawsuit Friday against the website, claiming that Grooveshark employees had uploaded more than 100,000 pirated songs to the site, reports Torrent Freak. Grooveshark says the suit is based on a “blatantly false” data and a “gross mischaracterization of information.”
The Grooveshark employees named in the Universal suit include chief executive Samuel Tarantino (1,791 songs), vice president Benjamin Westermann-Clark (4,645 songs) and “quality assurance” head Nikola Arabadjiev (40,243 songs). Universal is seeking $150,000 in damages for each track, which equals out to $17.1 billion for all 113,777 songs the music label claims were illegally uploaded and shared with Grooveshark users.
“Universal’s claims rest almost entirely on an anonymous, blatantly false Internet blog comment and Universal’s gross mischaracterization of information that Grooveshark itself provided to Universal,” said Marshall Custer, general counsel for Grooveshark, in a statement. “While Universal has deliberately engaged the media prior to serving a copy of the complaint on Grooveshark, Grooveshark intends to fight this battle before the court, not in the press.”
The bit about Grooveshark fighting “before the court, not in the press,” refers to the fact that news about the Universal suit appeared on CNet even before Grooveshark learned that it had been sued.
The comment Custer alludes to was posted to Digital Music News, in response to a story about the band King Crimson attempting (and failing) to have its music removed from Grooveshark.
Here is the comment, in full:
I work for Grooveshark. Here is some information from the trenches:
We are assigned a predetermined ammount [sic] of weekly uploads to the system and get a small extra bonus if we manage to go above that (not easy).The assignments are assumed as direct orders from the top to the bottom, we don’t just volunteer to “enhance” the Grooveshark database.
All search results are monitored and when something is tagged as “not available”, it get’s queued up to our lists for upload. You have to visualize the database in two general sections: “known” stuff and “undiscovered/indie/underground”. The “known” stuff is taken care internally by uploads. Only for the “undiscovered” stuff are the users involved as explained in some posts above. Practically speaking, there is not much need for users to upload a major label album since we already take care of this on a daily basis.
Are the above legal, or ethical? Of course not. Don’t reply to give me a lecture. I know. But if the labels and their laywers [sic] can’t figure out how to stop it, then I don’t feel bad for having a job. It’s tough times.
Why am I disclosing all this? Well, I have been here a while and I don’t like the attitude that the administration has aquired [sic] against the artists. They are the enemy. They are the threat. The things that are said internally about them would make you very very angry. Interns are promised getting a foot in the music industry, only to hear these people cursing and bad mouthing the whole industry all day long, to the point where you wonder what would happen if Grooveshark get’s hacked by Anonymous one day and all the emails leak on some torrent or something.
And, to confirm the fears of the members of King Crimson, there is no way in hell you can get your stuff down. They are already tagged since you sent in your first complaint. The administration knows that you can’t afford to sue for infringement.
Obviously, this battle is far from over, but it would seem prudent to enjoy your Grooveshark mashups now, before it’s too late.
[Image via Andreas Meyer/Shutterstock]