Grooveshark got its ass handed to it by major record labels — and now its closed for good
Even Russian introverts who’ve spent the past 11 years fetal-tucked in a dark corner on the International Space Station could probably have seen this one coming. After its widely publicized and publicly scrutinized ruling against it from major record companies in October of last year, one of the first online music streaming services to hit the Net has called it quits.
Grooveshark, a Web-based music streaming service launched in 2007 — a time when the current dramatics of copyright law and up-in-the-air protocol was next to nil in the media — was handed down a stiff sentence last year when it was found to have violated copyright laws on 5,977 songs in its initial library.
A memo to its employees, among other evidence, was found to contain instructions from higher-ups to “share as much music as possible from outside the office, and leave your computers on whenever you can.”
“This initial content is what will help to get our network started,” the memo continues, “it’s very important that we all help out! If you have available hard drive space on your computer, I strongly encourage you to fill it with any music you can find. Download as many MP3’s as possible, and add them to the folders you’re sharing on Grooveshark.”
This type of behavior is, of course, illegal and not protected under the “safe harbour” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — and U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa (not pictured above, we don't think ...) thought so too. His ruling against Grooveshark was rumored to be worth anywhere from $780 million to tens-of-billions of dollars to record labels.
The closure of the site is part of a deal worked out between the labels, Grooveshark, and its parent company Escape Media, which also requires the company to hand over website, apps and any intellectual property — including patents and copyrights.
The labels didn’t just yank the rug out from under the company: it raided the cabinets, kicked in a few walls, pissed on the blooming geraniums and slapped everyone's grandmother on the way out. What a brutal way to end a company — even if what it did was against the rules.
A letter posted to the Grooveshark website last night apologizes for its mishandling of the situation and thanks the users for whatever contribution they may have had: