RIAA: Hip-Hop Mixtape Site Has No DMCA Safe Harbor

Spinrilla, a popular hip-hop mixtape site and app, is defending itself against a piracy lawsuit filed by several RIAA labels. The company argued that the DMCA's "safe harbor" shields it from infringing files that were uploaded by its users. However, the RIAA points out that Spinrilla doesn't have the required repeat infringer policy and failed to register a DMCA agent as well.

Earlier this year, a group of well-known labels targeted Spinrilla, a popular hip-hop mixtape site and accompanying app with millions of users.

The coalition of record labels including Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, and Universal Music Group, filed a lawsuit accusing the service of alleged copyright infringements.

“Spinrilla specializes in ripping off music creators by offering thousands of unlicensed sound recordings for free,” the RIAA commented at the time.

The hip-hop site countered the allegations by pointing out that it installed an RIAA-approved anti-piracy filter and actively worked with major record labels to promote their tracks. In addition, Spinrilla stressed that the DMCA’s safe harbor protects the company.

The DMCA safe-harbor shields Internet services from liability for copyright infringing users. However, to apply for this protection, companies have to meet certain requirements. This is where Spinrilla failed, according to a filing just submitted by the record labels.

The RIAA points out that Spinrilla failed to register a designated DMCA agent with the copyright office, which is one of the requirements. In addition, they claim that the mix-tape site took no clear action against repeat infringers, another prerequisite.

“Defendants have not registered a designated DMCA agent with the Copyright Office and have not adopted, communicated, or reasonably implemented a policy that prevents repeat infringement. Either of these undisputed facts alone renders Defendants ineligible for the protections of the DMCA,” the RIAA writes.

On the repeat infrimnger issue, the record labels say that some of Spinrilla’s “artist” accounts were used to upload infringing material for weeks on end.

“For example, one such ‘artist’ uploaded a new mixtape each week for over 80 consecutive weeks, each containing sound recordings that the RIAA identified to Spinrilla as infringing, including recordings by such well-known major label artists as Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Missy Elliott, Common, and Ludacris,” RIAA notes.

Based on the above, RIAA argues that Spinrilla is not entitled to safe harbor protections under the DMCA. They ask the court for a summary judgment to render this defense inapplicable, which would be a severe blow to the hip-hop mixtape site.

“And, because Defendants have pinned their defense to liability almost entirely on the DMCA, a ruling now that Defendants are ineligible for the DMCA safe harbor will substantially streamline — if not end entirely — this litigation going forward.

“The Court should therefore grant Plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment now,” the RIAA stresses (pdf).

While the case doesn’t end here, without DMCA safe harbor protection it will definitely be harder for Spinrilla to come out unscathed.

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