Grooveshark challenges Google and the music industry in a battle of legalities
In case you haven't been paying attention, there are some heated battles going on in digital space right now with regard to digital music distribution rights. Just three weeks ago, Amazon launched its cloud storage and streaming services, much to the chagrin of the major labels. As we wait for the reaction to that, we already have another issue as Google dropped Grooveshark's application from its store under legal concerns. Grooveshark's response? An open letter.
Grooveshark, of course, is a service that lets users stream their music across multiple devices. The company has multiple agreements with several major labels, many of them indies , and has a user base of millions of people. When Google removed Grooveshark from its marketplace, it claimed it was due to a violation of the Terms of Service, but didn't specify which ones.
In the letter from Grooveshark, Senior Vice President for Information Products Paul Geller sets the record straight from his company's point of view. First and foremost, it's worth pointing out that Grooveshark has subverted the official App Market after the removal and gone straight for a browser plug-in to enable its streaming service on most Android phones. That's just half the battle, though.
The fighting words Geller lays out are aimed not so much at Google, but at the music industry in general. In the final paragraph, he notes, "We will defend our service, and the letter and the spirit of the law, in court and in Congress. We will defend our name and our ideas for the sake of our users, who expect a modern delivery system and comprehensive access across devices. "
While much of the letter is showboating the importance of the service, it does bring about several key points: Grooveshark claims to be operating within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which protects technology that might enable illegal activities provided it's innovating under safe-harbor protections (similar to YouTube). That's mostly true, but when it comes to streaming and even cloud services, there isn't enough language in the law to fully comprehend the original intention of the bill. After all, "streaming" could someday be a dirty word.
For what it's worth, the website and service is still up and running; it's just the Android app that has been removed. But that doesn't make what Grooveshark is doing any less important. Or Amazon, for that matter. The DMCA was created in 1998; it has been used in countless lawsuits and has slowly but surely been updated and interpreted to meet modern demands. Still, we're desperately in need of DMCA reform, and in light of new moves being made by major players in the industry, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Click through to read Grooveshark's open letter to Google