UMG Copyright Lawsuit Charges Grooveshark Execs, Employees With Massive Uploads of Infringing Tunes

Record label UMG Recordings, Inc. sued Escape Media Group, Inc., the owner of online music streaming website Grooveshark, five of the company’s executives, and two other employees for alleged copyright infringement.

UMG’s newest lawsuit contains purported email exchanges with company director Sina Simantob alleging, in part, that Escape “bet the company on the fact that it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask [record labels] permission” to use their copyrighted works. (Read the full complaint below).

That business model has raised eyebrows, and been critiqued for failing to pay artists anything for playing their unlicensed works.

Significantly, the complaint charges that a Groovershark employee reportedly blogged about being tasked to make unauthorized uploads. Paragraph 29 of the complaint contains a table purporting to show how Escape employees — including senior executives — uploaded over 113,000 copyright-protected works to the Groovershark website “in order to boost Escape’s library of infringing content and to make the service more attractive to prospective users.”

UMG is also suing Grooveshark’s parent company in New York State court, alleging common law copyright infringement and unfair competition.

One of Escape’s defenses in the state lawsuit is that the company is immune from liability under safe harbor provisions in 17 U.S.C. § 512 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (‘DMCA’). That litigation is still active.

Escape has been a party to at least four Grooveshark website copyright lawsuits, and previously settled a copyright case with Capitol Records by entering into a licensing agreement.

A sample of recording artists whose works are licensed or owned by UMG include:

Follow the UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Escape Media (Grooveshark) copyright docket here, and read the new copyright lawsuit below:

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