Grooveshark Signs With Sony, Steps Over that Wavy ‘Piracy’ Line

Grooveshark, a site that has been under fire from some of the world's largest record labels, has signed a deal with Sony / ATV Publishing. The settlement, which ends all disputes between the companies, will see Sony's large catalogue become legally available via the Grooveshark platform. With an EMI deal also in the bag, is the embattled music streaming service embarking on a YouTube-style road to legitimacy?

groovesharkWhat’s the difference between YouTube and Grooveshark?

That’s not the start of some terrible geek in-joke but a question that Grooveshark founder Sam Tarantino has always been happy to answer, and for good reason.

Tarantino, the company’s current CEO, sees his streaming product as very much like a music-only version of YouTube. Just like its Google-owned counterpart, anyone can upload content to Grooveshark in order for the world to enjoy that same material on their machines.

But as Grooveshark has made clear to TorrentFreak in the past, the similarities don’t end there. Just like YouTube, Grooveshark is very aware that some users may upload content to which they don’t own the rights. So, in common with YouTube, Grooveshark abides by United States law and when someone notifies them that a copyrighted track has been uploaded, they take it down.

YouTube’s problems with rightsholders during the past few years (notably Viacom) have been widely documented but the company has largely sorted out its differences with rightsholders and has become a valuable marketing machine and source of revenue. Despite fighting lawsuits with several major labels, Grooveshark has always believed it can follow in YouTube’s footsteps, and now there are signs that against the odds they just might achieve their goal.

Grooveshark has just announced that it has reached a settlement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The agreement, which puts all legal disputes between the companies behind them, sees the signing of a licensing agreement to make Sony/ATV content legally available from the Grooveshark platform.

“We are excited to add Sony/ATV Music’s impressive array of songwriters to our catalogue further advancing our mission to empower creators with the best audio platform in the world,” CEO Sam Tarantino said in a statement.

According to research from Informa, Sony/ATV is the world’s largest music publisher accounting for 30% revenue market share in 2012.

The licensing deal is the second in less than four weeks for Grooveshark. Earlier this month the company announced that it had settled its differences with EMI Music Publishing with the signing of a licensing agreement. According to Informa, EMI is the second largest music publisher with a 20% revenue market share in 2012.

So where now for Grooveshark?

Even on the back of May’s ‘consent judgments‘ no announcement has yet been made in respect of settlements or licensing deals with Universal or Warner. Furthermore, the company still has to shake off some unpleasant problems such as being the subject of a Danish ISP block and being censored by Google. TorrentFreak also asked the BPI if Grooveshark will remain a target in the UK, but we’ve yet to receive a response.

The big question now, however, goes back to the difference between YouTube and Grooveshark. The former proactively screens for infringing content based on lists supplied by rightholders and even has a deal with Universal that allows them to take down, seemingly, whatever they like.

Does Grooveshark aspire to be just like YouTube in all ways in the name of survival? Time will tell.

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