Legal Drama, Music Business

Digital Copyright Lawsuit: Universal Music Group Wins Appeal Against Grooveshark


Universal Music Group GroovesharkAML People, Industry, bookmark this case. It is one of those “you need to know” cases if you are in the business of music/the music industry. For AML African digital distributor readers such as Spinlet, IROKO, PANA, IBAKA et al., you all should pay particular attention to this case.


“In a closely watched digital copyright lawsuit, a panel of five judges in the New York State Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a lower state court decision favoring Escape Media Group Inc., the operators of the music streaming site Grooveshark.


The lawsuit, filed by Universal Music Group, alleged that Grooveshark had violated copyrights laws by hosting unlicensed music from Universal’s catalog that was recorded prior to 1972.


The date is significant because recordings from 1972 and onward explicitly fell under the DMCA, which granted online service providers such as Grooveshark a “safe harbor” against copyright litigation, provided that they meet certain obligations, including a process for taking down infringing content uploaded by users.


The decision has the potential to send a number of social networks that rely on user uploaded content scrambling to scour their systems for copyrighted material recorded prior to 1972 in order to ensure compliance, including YouTube, SoundCloud and others. “The Court’s decision, if it stands, will significantly undermine the Safe Harbor protections of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and may severely disrupt the operations of all Internet Service Providers who, like Groovehark, permit access to user-generated music content,” Grooveshark’s attorney, John Rosenberg, said in a statement. “As a result, Grooveshark intends to appeal the Court’s decision and to seek legislative action on this critical issue, not only for its own interests but for the industry as a whole.””

THR, Esq. has the full story.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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