Online music streaming site Grooveshark has shut down in the wake of a drawn out legal battle which saw the pioneering company face endless copyright suits from top record labels, including a $15bn case from Universal Music Group.
Despite arguing that its site mirrored a similar framework to YouTube and was protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, judges found the service owners Escape Media guilty of mass copyright infringement for hosting and uploading thousands of copyrighted songs from major artists such as Madonna and Jay-Z.
The site closed as part of a settlement agreement yesterday, in lieu of a $736mn (approx. £482mn) fine. The agreement stipulates that the company must erase any record of copyrighted media, hand over control of both its online and mobile platforms, and give up rights to its patented material and intellectual property.
Should the free streaming website violate any of these requirements, it will owe the record labels $75mn.
Grooveshark founders Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino issued an apology on the website’s landing page reading: “Despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”
The website advised users to subscribe to other legal services such as Spotify, Deezer, and Google Play. “If you love music and respect the artists, songwriters and everyone else who makes great music possible, use a licensed service that compensates artists and other rights holders,” the statement added.
Grooveshark was founded in 2006 by three University of Florida students. Six years ago major record companies, such as Sony Music and Warner Music Group, started a series of lawsuits insisting on the platform’s illegality and temporarily blacklisted the streaming service from Google search results in 2013.