Google pulled the Grooveshark music app from the Android Market earlier this month at the request of the RIAA and accusations of copyright infringement. But Grooveshark is not going quietly. In an open letter to the music industry, written by Grooveshark’s Paul Geller and shared exclusively with Digital Music News, the company addresses Grooveshark’s legality. The letter states that Google removed the app for allegedly violating its “Terms Of Service,” which could suggest that Grooveshark is not a legal service. “So let’s set the record straight,” the letter reads. “There is nothing illegal about what Grooveshark offers to consumers.”
Grooveshark’s plea of “not illegal” is based on its compliance with federal law. “Grooveshark is completely legal because we comply with the laws passed by Congress, but we are not licensed by every label (yet),” the letter says. Grooveshark, as a technology company, claims to “operate within the boundaries of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).” Title II of the DMCA, written into law by President Clinton, “limits the liability of service providers in circumstances where the provider merely acts as a data conduit, transmitting digital information from one point on a network to another at someone else’s request,” according to the U.S. Copyright Office. The “limitation covers acts of transmission, routing or providing connections for the information, as well as the intermediate and transient copies that are made automatically in the operation of a network.” Title II covers the “Safe Harbor component” addressed in Grooveshark’s letter, which Geller says “encourages technology companies to innovate in hopes that they will eventually solve some of the problems that are plaguing content producers today.”
But Geller doesn’t just hide behind Congress in his letter, as he claims that Grooveshark does “have worldwide licensing from over a thousand labels” and pays “the three major U.S. performing rights organizations, as well as some international bodies, and are actively pursuing agreements with those that we don’t.” Despite these efforts, Grooveshark might never reappear in Google’s Android Market, especially considering Google is preparing to launch its own music app. But Android users may still pick up the app on Grooveshark’s own page.
In other news…
• Amazon also got in on the letter-writing game last week, addressing whether it will seek licenses to cover its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player (Answer: It won’t.). The latest cloud-based offerings are running smoothly, but are they worth the price per gigabyte?
• A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Death Row Records does not have the rights to distribute Dr. Dre’s seminal 1992 album, The Chronic, digitally, according to the Associated Press. The ruling guarantees Dre 100 percent of his digital sales, thus putting a stop to Death Row’s extended “Fuck Wit Dre Day.”
• Al Jourgensen, frontman of the industrial metal band Ministry is suing the makers of a documentary on him and his band. Jourgensen told the Los Angeles Times that the filmmakers of Fix, which recently premiered at the Chicago International Movies And Music Festival, breached their contract with him “in a lot of different ways,” including not letting him see the final cut of the film before it was screened publicly.
• Apple knows no wrongs, as iTunes, much like Apple’s iPhone and iPad, is seeing a rise in sales. As reported by All Things Digital, the digital store made $1.4 billion in sales in the last quarter, up from $1.1 billion last year.
Industry Wrap is a weekly CMJ column covering industry-related music news. Send tips to Christine Werthman at firstname.lastname@example.org.