Music fans love to share mixtapes and have done so for decades but sharing these ‘tapes’ over the Internet is not without risk.
Popular hip-hop mixtape site and app Spinrilla has millions of users and is well aware of the pitfalls. In 2017, the company was sued by several RIAA-backed labels, including Sony, Warner, and UMG, which accused the company of massive copyright infringement.
“Spinrilla specializes in ripping off music creators by offering thousands of unlicensed sound recordings for free,” the RIAA commented at the time.
Spinrilla Fought Piracy Accusations
The hip-hop site countered the allegations by pointing out its RIAA-approved anti-piracy filter and highlighting how it actively worked with major record labels to promote their tracks. In addition, Spinrilla stressed that the DMCA’s safe harbor protects the company from liability.
As the case progressed both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The music companies requested rulings to establish that Spinrilla is liable for direct copyright infringement and that the DMCA safe harbor doesn’t apply. Spinrilla countered with cross-motions, filed under seal, in which they argued the opposite.
Court: Spinrilla is Liable
In December 2020, US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that Spinrilla is indeed liable for direct copyright infringement. In her ruling, Judge Totenberg concluded that 4,082 copyrighted sound recordings were streamed at least once through Sprinrilla’s website or app.
Without the DMCA’s safe harbor protection, Spinrilla faced a severe disadvantage in the event the case went to trial. With 4,082 copyrights at stake, potential damages would exceed $600 million if the jury found that the infringements were willful.
$50 Million + Shutdown
Spinrilla doesn’t go light on itself in the judgment offer. The mixtape service commits to paying $50 million in damages plus other fees to the music companies. That’s far less than the potential $600 million available at trial, but it’s still a massive figure for a piracy case.
The proposed judgment, signed by a clerk at a US District Court in Georgia yesterday, effectively ends the legal battle after more than six years.
“Judgment shall be entered in favor of Plaintiffs and against Defendants jointly and severally in the amount of $50,000,000, inclusive of any recoverable costs and attorneys’ fees,” the judgment reads.
In addition to the piracy damages, Spinrilla will close its doors for good. That includes its hugely popular iOS and Android apps, which were downloaded millions of times.
To give an impression of its reach, the Android app has over 93,000 reviews and over 10 million downloads. The Apple store doesn’t share any download statistics but the Spinrilla app has 342,000 reviews on the platform.
Transfer Domain Name
The judgment prohibits Spinrilla and its founder Dylan Copeland from offering the service, and the Spinrilla site and apps are required to shut down within five days.
“[Defendants are restrained from] operating the Spinrilla Service or any other website, platform, system, or application that Defendants (or either of them) own or control, directly or indirectly, that is substantively similar to the Spinrilla Service,” the judgment reads.
“Defendants shall have five (5) days from notice of entry by the Court of this Offer of Judgment to come into compliance with the terms set forth in the preceding paragraph without being in violation of said judgment.”
At the time of writing the Spinrilla apps and website remain online but that is expected to change soon. As part of the judgment, the Spinrilla domain name will end up in the hands of the music companies.
“Defendants shall transfer the domain name https://spinrilla.com to the Plaintiffs in accordance with the terms of the confidential Settlement Agreement and Release among the parties,” the judgment adds.
There is no mention of the judgment or the pending shutdown of Spinrilla on the official site but we expect confirmation to arrive fairly soon.
A copy of the judgment approved yesterday by US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg is available here (pdf)