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.
Both sides have started the discovery process and recently asked the court to rule on several unresolved matters. The parties begin with their statements of facts, clearly from opposite angles.
The RIAA remains confident that the mixtape site is ripping off music creators and wants its operators to be held accountable.
“Since Spinrilla launched, Defendants have facilitated millions of unauthorized downloads and streams of thousands of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings without Plaintiffs’ permission,” RIAA writes, complaining about “rampant” infringement on the site.
However, Spinrilla itself believes that the claims are overblown. The company points out that the RIAA’s complaint only lists a tiny fraction of all the songs uploaded by its users. These somehow slipped through its Audible Magic anti-piracy filter.
Where the RIAA paints a picture of rampant copyright infringement, the mixtape site stresses that the record labels are complaining about less than 0.001% of all the tracks they ever published.
“From 2013 to the present, Spinrilla users have uploaded about 1 million songs to Spinrilla’s servers and Spinrilla published about 850,000 of those. Plaintiffs are complaining that 210 of those songs are owned by them and published on Spinrilla without permission,” Spinrilla’s lawyers write.
“That means that Plaintiffs make no claim to 99.9998% of the songs on Spinrilla. Plaintiffs’ shouting of ‘rampant infringement on Spinrilla’, an accusation that Spinrilla was designed to allow easy and open access to infringing material, and assertion that ‘Defendants have facilitated millions of unauthorized downloads’ of those 210 songs is untrue – it is nothing more than a wish and a dream.”
The company reiterates that it’s a platform for independent musicians and that it doesn’t want to feature the Eminem’s and Bieber’s of this world, especially not without permission.
As for the discovery process, there are still several outstanding issues they need the Court’s advice on. Spinrilla has thus far produced 12,000 pages of documents and answered all RIAA interrogatories, but refuses to hand over certain information, including its source code.
According to Spinrilla, there is no reason for the RIAA to have access to its “crown jewel.”
“The source code is the crown jewel of any software based business, including Spinrilla. Even worse, Plaintiffs want an ‘executable’ version of Spinrilla’s source code, which would literally enable them to replicate Spinrilla’s entire website. Any Plaintiff could, in hours, delete all references to ‘Spinrilla,’ add its own brand and launch Spinrilla’s exact website.
“If we sued YouTube for hosting 210 infringing videos, would I be entitled to the source code for YouTube? There is simply no justification for Spinrilla sharing its source code with Plaintiffs,” Spinrilla adds.
The RIAA, on the other hand, argues that the source code will provide insight into several critical issues, including Spinrilla’s knowledge about infringing activity and its ability to terminate repeat copyright infringers.
In addition to the source code, the RIAA has also requested detailed information about the site’s users, including their download and streaming history. This request is too broad, the mixtape site argues, and has offered to provide information on the uploaders of the 210 infringing tracks instead.
It’s clear that the RIAA and Spinrilla disagree on various fronts and it will be up to the court to decide what information must be handed over. So far, however, the language used clearly shows that both parties are far from reaching some kind of compromise.
The first joint discovery statement is available in full here (pdf).