Universal seeks summary judgment against Grooveshark in pre-1972 copyright case

Grooveshark canvasSirius XM was on the receiving end of some bad copyright news last week, and this week the recipient is Grooveshark. Universal Music Group is pushing for a summary judgment in an ongoing lawsuit, claiming that it is the owner of pre-1972 recordings played on the streaming service.

Since Grooveshark’s users are the ones uploading content and since labels can issue takedown notices, the platform has argued that it is covered by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbors and thus is not liable for infringement. Universal is arguing that this provision should not apply to the music dating before 1972.

UMG and Escape Media, the parent company of Grooveshark, have been at loggerheads for years. “Escape has admitted that it competes with UMG in the market for the dissemination of music over the Internet,” the label argued. “Accordingly, it obtained an unfair competitive advantage over authorized streaming services by using UMG’s sound recordings without a license or payment.” The courts have been inconsistent in their treatment of Grooveshark’s actions, with a ruling in its favor in 2011 and a reversal in 2013.

Anna Washenko