After ten years of operations, US-based streaming website Grooveshark as ceased it operations after a lengthy legal battle. Losing a copyright-infringement case against several high profile record labels, the music streaming site shut down as a condition of the settlement.
Whilst having a ten year history that included massive levels of success, particularly in between 2009-11, Groovesharks biggest mistake was their approach to building their catalogue of music. Conventional music streaming website such as Spotify rely on licencing deals with artists and record labels, whereas Grooveshark was built around uploads from users.
As the message on Groveshark’s website states “We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation,”
This is the main cause for them losing their court case, and the results are now in full effect. “As part of a settlement agreement with the major record companies, we have agreed to cease operations immediately, wipe clean all of the record companies’ copyrighted works and hand over ownership of this website, our mobile apps and intellectual property, including our patents and copyrights.”
Many popular music streaming services exist on the market, with big hitters such as Spotify, Deezer, Google Play and Beats Music all becoming popular choices in more recent years. In fact, Grooveshark even went on as to recommending users try these “fan-friendly, affordable services”.
These recent declines in Grooveshark are a far cry from the height of their popularity, which the claim gave them as many as 35 million users over their most successful periods. Yet will the removal of popular apps on both Google and Apple’s app store, a decline was inevitable. Throw in the copyright-infringement lawsuits and it was only a matter of time before they ceased operations.
After settling out of court in 2013, they were again sued in 2014, losing the case in September. The presiding judge deemed that Grooveshark had encouraged its employees to upload music to its catalogue which was a direct contradiction that it was abiding by ‘safe harbour’ legislation – that it would immediately remove continent that was in copyright infringement when notified by the owners.
It proved to be one of the last measurements that Grooveshark tried to stay afloat, along with claims that the lawsuit was in relation to ‘an early version of Grooveshark which was dispensed in 2008’. They would also attempt to launch an app that included full licensing as well as message services, but it would prove a little too late.
Come the end of April the judge had ruled that Groovesharks ‘wilful’ infringement cold lead to damages of up to $150,000 per song. Taking into account here were 4,907 song involved in the lawsuit, a worst case scenario could have seen a bill reaching $736m. As a result, Grooveshark has completely shut down, with the site permanently gone.