On April 30th, 2015, popular music streaming website, Grooveshark.com officially decided to close its doors, rather than face up to $736 million in damages. This decisions comes as part of a settlement in a five year legal battle with the record industry.
Yup, poor Grooveshark is shut down. If one visits the website right now, they will be met with an apology and closure notice that wreak of settlement terms. For fans, the statement on grooveshark.com is almost too painful to read, not to mention contrary to the site's stance during the bulk of its legal battles.
To understand the legal trouble Grooveshark faced, one must first understand a little bit about Grooveshark. The site allowed users to upload MP3s which could then be accessed by other users and streamed. Grooveshark did this without seeking any licensing rights from the record industry. Thus the industry went after them based on copyright infringement and licensing issues. Grooveshark's defense was that they were similar to websites like Youtube or Soundcloud and were not responsible for the copyrighted songs that were uploaded by Grooveshark's users. They postured that they were abiding by the law as long as they responded to DMCA take-down requests.
The record industry did not agree — they saw Grooveshark's behavior as a willful breach of copyright protections and licensing obligations.
Even though the lawsuits directed at Grooveshark were primarily based on copyright infringement, some have speculated that it was the fact that pirates could easily rip songs from the service that really drew the ire of the record industry.
You see, as a result of storing and streaming songs that users uploaded, Grooveshark maintained what some argue was the most extensive music library on the planet. Because of the service's ability to stream almost any song imaginable and on demand, it eventually became the target of pirates. While Grooveshark provided no means for its users to download songs illegally, (It did provide a means to purchase them legally, through a multitude of venders.) savvy pirates were able to use web ripping software, such as Orbit Downloader and Groovesquid to pull songs directly from the stream.
But all this is old news. Grooveshark is gone now right? Well if this article's title means anything, no, not so much. Mourning fans can allay their grief, at least for the moment. Grooveshark is inexplicably back up, or rather, an unofficial clone of it is.
Earlier this week, a writer for BGR.com received an e-mail from an anonymous individual with alleged ties to the old Grooveshark. This person, going by the name of Shark, claimed he was assembling a team to resurrect the service. He explained a little bit about his endeavor in the quote below.
How can I do this? Well, I started backing up all the content on the website when I started suspecting that Grooveshark’s demise is close and my suspicion was confirmed a few days later when they closed. By the time they closed I have already backed up 90% of the content on the site and I’m now working on getting the remaining 10%.
Shark doesn't seem to be lying — you can see the results of his labor at www.grooveshark.io. At the moment, the site is a shadow of its former self. Playlists, favorites, ads, and the ability to upload songs are some features that are currently missing. What isn't missing however, is the extensive streamable music library. The new Grooveshark seems to be compatible with popular stream ripping software, Orbit Downloader. However, there's still no word from the guys at Groovesquid on if/when they plan to make their software compatible with the new site. So for now, the piracy aspect of Grooveshark can still be accessed, but not quite as conveniently as it once was.
Whether Shark and his team plan to keep Grooveshark alive legally or illegally, they will almost certainly be facing an uphill battle. In regards to that fact, Shark had this to say.
We have all the servers/domains infrastructure in place, it’s going to be a roller coaster and we’re ready for it.In what seems to be an attempt to avoid more legal trouble, the new Grooveshark has re-branded itself as a search engine "like google." The copyright section of the reborn site claims that it does not personally host any files and only streams the content of other sites. Given what we know about the site being based off of the backups of the old one, it's hard to imagine how this could possibly be true. Indeed, several segments of the copyright section don't seem to add up, but maybe they will as the service becomes more complete.
Even as work continues on the new grooveshark.io, there's no word on whether old users will have their playlists and favorites restored... The possibility seems unlikely at this point. What do you readers think? Were you fans of the old Grooveshark, or do you consider them freeloading, copyright-infringing scum? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.