Court Orders Cloudflare to Disconnect ‘New’ Grooveshark

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The RIAA has scored an important victory against CloudFlare after the company refused to terminate services to a Grooveshark replacement. District Court Judge Alison Nathan ruled that CloudFlare actively helps the pirate site to spread copyrighted works, and ordered to company to stop doing so.

cloudflareLast month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end. However, within days a new site was launched aiming to take its place.

The RIAA wasn’t happy with this development and quickly obtained a restraining order, preventing domain registrars and hosting companies from offering their services to the site.

This was somewhat effective, as Namecheap quickly suspended the original domain name. However, not all parties were as cooperative.

Popular CDN-service CloudFlare refused to take action on the basis that it is not “aiding and abetting” piracy. The RIAA disagreed and asked New York District Court Judge Alison Nathan to rule on the matter.

In an order (pdf) just published, Judge Nathan agrees with the music group.

CloudFlare argued that they were not bound to the restraining order since they were not in “active concert or participation” due to the automated nature of its services. In addition, the company countered that even if it disconnected Grooveshark, the site would still be accessible.

In her order Nathan notes that she finds neither argument persuasive. The fact that CloudFlare is aware of the infringements and provides services that help the public to easily access the infringing site, shows otherwise.

“Connecting internet users to in this manner benefits Defendants and quite fundamentally assists them in violating the injunction because, without it, users would not be able to connect to Defendants’ site unless they knew the specific IP address for the site,” Judge Nathan writes.

“Beyond the authoritative domain name server, CloudFlare also provides additional services that it describes as improving the performance of the site,” she adds.

The argument that the ‘new’ Grooveshark will still be around after CloudFlare suspends the account was found to be irrelevant. A third-party can still be bound by a restraining order even if terminating its services doesn’t render a website inaccessible.

“… just because another third party could aid and abet the Defendants in violating the injunction does not mean that CloudFlare is not doing so,” the order reads.

Finally, the Judge agrees that there may be other services that are not covered by the order. However, in this case CloudFlare is directly facilitating Grooveshark, with specific knowledge of the accounts that are responsible.

For CloudFlare the ruling comes as a disappointment, opening the door for a slew of similar requests. The CDN has several of the largest pirate sites as clients, including The Pirate Bay, which is now a relatively easy target.

At the time of writing is no longer accessible, suggesting that CloudFlare has already complied with the order.


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