Yesterday (April 29, 2015) brought a close to the long running saga of Grooveshark—an online streaming service that grew its userbase by hosting music to which they did not—for the most part—have licenses.
Over several years of litigation, Grooveshark’s core argument—that it was covered under the “safe harbors” for internet service providers—began to unravel as evidence came forward that not only did the company’s principals know that the site was infringing, employees were encouraged to populate the service with unauthorized music files. (You can see the company’s final statement here.)
We at Future of Music Coalition are pleased to hear that Grooveshark is no more. “Infringe now, license later” is not a valid business model. We hope that Grooveshark ceasing operations is a turning point.
We have a long way to go to ensure fairness and transparency in the music licensing system. Some of the current frustrations are due to the tendencies of multinational corporate rightsholders to abuse their leverage and hide the money from artists while failing to properly enumerate their holdings to services. Some of the frustrations are due to tensions in growing the legitimate marketplace for music during a difficult—and emotional—format shift to an access vs. ownership model (though ownership is still viable and awesome).
One way to make things better—though it may not be the only approach—is to have everyone who uses music pay for these uses. That way, we can get more fans on board with legitimate, licensed platforms as we work to identify ways to raise the floor for artist compensation.
But the days of excuse making are over. Let the fate of Grooveshark send a message: if you use music, pay for the damn music.
Now let’s get back to work fighting for an equitable and transparent digital music marketplace that rewards artists and fans alike.
Image via Shutterstock