A Legal Blog by Aaron | Sanders, PLLC

In Grooveshark’s Defense: DMCA Safe-Harbor Protection (Part 6 of Online Music Service Series)

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…

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Eighth Annual E-Commerce Best Practices Conference

Eighth Annual E-Commerce Best Practices Conference, Part 1
Stanford, CA, June 24, 2011

As my Twitter followers know, on June 24, I attended a full-day conference at Stanford University, the Eight Annual E-Commerce Best Practices Conference.  It was definitely worth going out to California to attend.  I was tweeting throughout, but I thought it’d be a good idea to gather the tweets together into a single blog entry.

There’s a lot to discuss, so I’ll break this down into four or five blog entries.  I’ll start first with the thought-provoking keynote speech.

United States District Judge Jeremy Fogel, of the Northern District of California, gave the keynote speech to the conference.  His main concern was the tension or even disconnect between (a) consumer experience of eCommerce (and the Internet in general), (b) the technologists who enable and profit from eCommerce, and (c) the applicable law.  The law is simply ill equipped to resolve this tension.  This isn’t a new concern by any means, but it was being expressed thoughtfully by a sitting federal judge who routinely hears technology cases.

What drives eCommerce lawsuits, according to Judge Fogel, is the consumer’s sense of “identity and expectation.”  He referenced a few celebrated cases in his own…

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