Anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen, who are better known by their former name of Antipiratgruppen, have revealed their latest target. Surprisingly though, it’s not a notorious torrent portal or some other so-called ‘rogue site’.
According to comments originally made in the print version of Politiken, RettighedsAlliancen have sent an urgent demand to the Danish “bailiff court” (known locally as Fogedretten) to have the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.
“When you want to offer music on the Danish market, one must have an agreement with rightholders to do so. Grooveshark does not and has been completely uncooperative,” explained RettighedsAlliancen chief Maria Fredenslund.
In recent years access to authorized streaming services such as Spotify has increased for Danes, says Fredenslund, so now is the time to give those types of companies protection.
“There is a burgeoning market for online music that we believe it is necessary to support. We are in a situation where the market will die if Grooveshark continues,” she adds.
Previously other sites have been blocked on copyright infringement grounds in Denmark including AllofMP3 and more recently The Pirate Bay, but the situation with Grooveshark is more complex. Since sites like TPB do not honor DMCA-style takedown requests, arguing that they should be blocked becomes a greatly simplified process. For Grooveshark the situation is much more complex.
Senior VP of Information Products at Grooveshark, Paul Geller, is on record stating that “there is nothing illegal” about Grooveshark since like its video counterpart YouTube, by responding to takedown notices it enjoys Safe Harbor under the DMCA.
Rightsholders in Denmark, however, say they don’t have the patience to deal with the process and that taking down content effectively from Grooveshark has proved impossible. Just like the RIAA, they suggest that the DMCA swings too far in favor of service providers, and official label licensing is required for a service to be considered legitimate. (Grooveshark is in fact licensed by EMI and dozens of other labels)
Nevertheless, Geller’s position on takedowns is widely supported. Piratgruppen spokesman Troels Møller describes this new move against Grooveshark as “censorship.”
“Grooveshark reacts to takedown notices, but that is not good enough for the copyright industry – they want complete control,” Troels told TorrentFreak. “And I can see why since Spotify, partially owned by the record companies, was just launched in Denmark. It is a very convenient time to get rid of the competition.”
“Denmark is becoming a censoring state, much like Syria, Tunisia, China, etc. They are effectively destroying the internet. It’s becoming less and less neutral and free,” Troels adds. “Luckily they are only using DNS-blocking so far, which can be easily circumvented.”
Troels, who is also co-founder of
internet think tank Bitbureauet, is concerned that should a block against Grooveshark be approved, it would set a worryingly low blocking threshold for other sites in the future.
“If the same logic is applied throughout the internet, the next logical step would be to block Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud and similar sites, which also host potentially infringing material until notified,” he concludes.
Jakob Willer of the Telecommunications Industry Association of Denmark says it’s not for his group or the ISPs to decide whether Grooveshark is legal, but hopes the service will get a chance to defend itself.
“I hope that Grooveshark will be consulted in the process because they are the ones who where applicable, will be barred,” Willer concludes.
Grooveshark’s Geller says he is unaware of any case pending against his company in Denmark.