Rick is an experienced Nashville intellectual-property litigator and an erstwhile part-time professor at Vanderbilt University Law School whose writing and teaching focuses on copyright issues but whose law practice involves a wide variety of IP-related disputes.
Is Grooveshark Just the YouTube of Music?
Although Grooveshark has been sued now three times, it has not yet had to explain why it thinks its activities are legal. After all, as we explained in our last two posts, its activities are infringing–but surely Grooveshark’s founders haven’t gone to the trouble of starting a business if they didn’t have some legal basis for what it does. And, indeed, they do: they believe Grooveshark is the YouTube of music. The idea is that, just like YouTube, users upload content and stream that content to their computers on request. And, to the same extent what YouTube does is legal, so should be what Grooveshark does.
By its nature, YouTube is always at risk of committing both direct and secondary copyright infringement. Any time a user uploads a copyrighted work–from clips ripped directly from TV or DVDs to home-made videos of children dancing to Prince songs–YouTube would be subject to secondary liability. Any time a user streams such content to his or her computer, YouTube would be subject to secondary liability.
I say “would be” instead of “is” because YouTube isn’t* liable for these many instances of copyright infringement. YouTube has a defense: section 512…Read More»