A group of more than 30 rightsholders have won their case targeted against Grooveshark in Denmark. A court agreed that both the streaming music service and its users infringe recording label copyrights and granted an injunction forcing an ISP to initiate a block of the service. The anti-piracy group behind the action hopes that other ISPs will now follow suit.
Last year, a group of entertainment companies known collectively as RettighedsAlliancen sent a demand to the Danish Bailiff Court (known locally as Fogedretten) to have the country’s Internet service providers block US-based streaming music service Grooveshark.
RettighedsAlliancen chief Maria Fredenslund said that Grooveshark had no content agreements or licenses with members of her group, accused the service of being “completely uncooperative” in negotiations, and that effectively taking down content from Grooveshark had proven impossible.
The resulting legal action was directed “randomly” at telecoms company ’3′ with a complaint that the ISP’s customers breach copyright and as their supplier they are contributing to infringements.
’3′ argued that not all content on Grooveshark is offered without permission since artists and labels legally upload and distribute their music via the service. If the court did indeed order an injunction its effects would be disproportionate and result in the censorship of legal content, ’3′ argued.
However, the court said that even though certain aspects of the Grooveshark service may be considered legal, the extent of the copyright violations being committed using the service overwhelmed them.
The Bailiff Court said that ’3′ was unlikely to suffer any financial losses as the result of an injunction and since ’3′ customers are violating copyright law when they stream music from Grooveshark, they would not be able to claim compensation from ’3′ when they could no longer access the site.
Based on the Danish implementation of the Infosoc Directive, the court ordered an immediate injunction against ’3′ which prohibits it from facilitating subscriber access to Grooveshark.
“Grooveshark is an illegal site, which is really big and popular. But they have a business model that is based on trickery and fraud,” said RettighedsAlliancen chief Maria Fredenslund commenting on the news.
“Many users believe that when they use Grooveshark payment goes back to the artists and producers. So we think it was important to close off access so the legitimate sites have a chance to recover,” Fredenslund added.
But Troels Møller, co-founder of internet think-tank Bitbureauet, says blocking access to Grooveshark is a step too far.
“This is an attack on free speech and basic Internet freedom. Danish politicians need to educate themselves on this subject, and realize that what is going on is very dangerous. It’s a slippery-slope into complete internet censorship,” he told TorrentFreak.
“In Denmark we are seeing this kind of censorship in more and more areas. It has expanded from blocking child abuse-sites to also blocking file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, and again to foreign pharmacy and gambling sites. And now we see blocking of music streaming sites without the proper license. What’s next?”
In the meantime, ’3′ are planning their next move
“We have received the result and will now decide what to do next,” Stinne Green Paulsen, Communications Manager at ’3′, told TorrentFreak. “We have four weeks to decide if we want to proceed or not.”
Proceeding would mean ’3′ taking the case to the High Court, but whatever the decision in the meantime the injunction will stand.
In addition to Grooveshark, other sites that have been blocked in Denmark on copyright infringement grounds include AllofMP3 and more recently The Pirate Bay.
RettighedsAlliancen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.