infringement

Sources suspect major labels convinced Google to blacklist Grooveshark

Friday, July 26, 2013 - 12:50pm

Google has reportedly added streaming service Grooveshark to its "blacklist" of sites it filters from its "Instant" and "Autocomplete" search services.

Google regularly filters sites it deems copyright infringers from appearing to users via this functionality. (Simply typing "Grooveshark" into the search field still finds the site.)

[Note to self: Launch company called "ThePirateBax.com"]

For years Grooveshark has attracted the ire (and legal attention) of record labels and music rights advocates for its alleged unlicensed use of copyright musical compositions and recordings. Grooveshark has actually secured licensing agreements with several indie labels -- but not major label groups, all of which have sued the company.

Torrentfreak.com wrote (here), "To us it seems likely that the addition of Grooveshark is not based on algorithms or DMCA requests. Google is asked to remove a median of 12 Grooveshark URLs per week, compared to 1,792 for BTloft, which is not on Google’s piracy blacklist. Perhaps the music labels have been pushing for Grooveshark’s inclusion behind the scenes?"

Techspot.com seems to agree (here). "It seems to have been somewhat related to the successful appeal by the Universal Music Group against Grooveshark two months ago."

For years, Grooveshark operated like an "on-demand" music service, enabling users to hear any song in its library at any time, and create and share playlists of such music. In April, Grooveshark (see RAIN here) unveiled a new service called "Broadcast," which converts playlists into user-generated online radio (which has different licensing requirements). More recently, online music service Playlist.com (see RAIN here) ceased its on-demand-style streaming and switched to an online radio service model -- forced to do so by "the record labels," the company told listeners.

Artist Aimee Mann sues content provider to music services MediaNet for infringement

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 12:35pm

Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann has filed suit against a company called MediaNet, described by Billboard as "essentially a white label that serves up more than 22 million songs to over 40 music services including Yahoo Music, Playlist.com, eBay and various online radio services."

Mann claims the service has willfully infringed on her copyrights through the unlicensed use of her music, and induced copyright infringement by its partners. She's asking for statutory damages which could end up as high as $18 million.

MediaNet CEO Frank Johnson says Mann's claim is without merit, and says his company has properly licensed Mann's music since 2003, and have made regular royalty payments.

Formerly known as MusicNet, the company was founded in 1999 and backed by music label groups BMG and EMI, along with AOL and RealNetworks. It was on online music store and the music industry's poorly-received answer to the then popular filesharing service Napster. MusicNet and the rival UMG/Sony Music-backed Pressplay were named two of PC World's "25 Worst Tech Products of All Time."

After being acquired by private investors, "the company appears to have had an interesting, legally contentious road toward becoming some form of back office aggregator of music for dozens of online music services," Billboard wrote.

For its coverage, GigaOm commented, "In the bigger picture, the MediaNet affair looks like part of a long and unfortunate history of middlemen in the music industry who have exploited, or outright robbed, the musicians they’re supposed to represent." Such cases "show how musicians’ financial woes arise not just from low streaming royalties, but from the complicated way in which music money is collected and distributed... Going forward, musicians can’t simply rail that streaming services should pay higher fees. They must also explain how to create a more rational system of payments to ensure they receive those higher fees in the first place."

Read Mann's complaint here. Billboard's reporting is here. And there's more from GigaOm here.

Playlist says labels forced its move to online radio service

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 8:05pm

On-demand streaming music service Playlist has switched to an online radio service model -- forced to do so by "the record labels," the company told listeners.

Playlist.com formerly allowed users to create and share streaming playlists simply by typing in song titles or artists. But as of the first of the month, that service is no longer available.

An e-mail to registered Playlist users read, "Sadly on July 1, 2013, the record labels required us to shut down the original Playlist service. We're so sorry; it was our life for over 6 years. We made sure to keep your playlist data safe and hope you'll try our new, approved smart radio service... We are forced to play by internet radio rules but kept your playlists as true as possible."

The new interface resembles the simple Pandora-style search box, in which listeners type a song title, artist, or album and the service generates a dynamic (though not on-demand) station. Once the station begins, there are options for genre-based stations (see image).

Hypebot reports, "By 2008, users had grown to 20 million. But the labels and RIAA objected to pulling content from other online sources, and in 2008 MySpace and Facebook disabled all ProjectPlaylist widgets. Deals in 2009-2010 with the labels, and shift to Playlist.com's slightly more restricted format, gave the company a second chance. But by then, traffic was falling and a messy bankruptcy followed."

Read more in Hypebot here.

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