With so much buzz surrounding Spotify, we often forget about other music streaming services. And as it turns out, Spotify isn’t the only one in hot water over what they can and can’t stream. Music streaming site Grooveshark has been operating on the fringes of legality for a while now, and has streamed some of their music without getting licenses from labels. While that’s changing as more sign on, for the past two months, guitarist Robert Fripp has been trying to get his solo work and King Crimson’s material off of the site, which he claims was being streamed without consent. This resulted to a thread of lengthy emails shared between Fripp, his legal team, Grooveshark, and Digital Media News.
Luckily for us, Digital Media News was willing to share these emails with the rest of the world. You can read each email over at their site, but we’d like to highlight just a few. First up is an email from Declan Colgan sent on September 13 to Grooveshark SVP Paul Geller:
“This is not simply about takedowns.
Most of the material taken down over the weekend has already re-appeared.
This is about that fact that Grooveshark has, repeatedly, allowed this material to be made available illegally, despite numerous notices that this represents an infringement of the copyrights involved: from Grayzone (one behalf of the copyright owner), from myself (as the licensee of the material) & communications that have been personally addressed directly to the company by the copyright holder Robert Fripp.
Irrespective of whether or not a third party label did warrant to Grooveshark that they had such rights (& Virgin/EMI – mentioned by Mr. Ford in writing to a fan who asked the question recently as having granted such licenses to Grooveshark assure us that they did not grant such rights), they are not the copyright owners & would have had no rights to do so.
I can ask Mark Furman, a senior lawyer at the company & copied on this note to confirm this yet again if it will help?
You ask for time & patience from us on the basis that “takedowns have been honored”, yet your site continues to offer King Crimson music illegally to the public.
That deserves public comment.
If you were taking our position “seriously”, you would disable the facilities to search & upload King Crimson music as you do for other artists.
A few more emails were sent back and forth after that, including one from Fripp himself and another from David Singleton regarding Geller’s claim that artists have control over what’s being streamed. Following Singleton’s email (which was made on October 13), Geller responded with the following email:
I am going to leave Paul Resnikoff CCed on this email against my better judgement but I removed Aaron Ford since he no longer works for us. I hope you let Paul know that I don’t just respond to emails like this while he is watching but take time with unhappy artists like the one you represent whenever necessary — suffice to say that your case is the only one I felt it necessary to be involved with. Ever.
Your experience with Grooveshark was unique in that you followed the procedures to a T, we claimed to have removed the links to your content, but as you demonstrated, they remained intact. I have never seen that happen before. After finding that, there was an exhaustive review of what technical procedures could have caused it and we put two additional safety nets in place to help prevent it from happening to you or anyone else again.
I’ll spare you the technical details except to say: we found a bug. We didn’t see that t had ever effected anyone before. Fixed the bug and now monitor it to make sure it never effects you or anyone else. I thought we resolved that after our last email thread since I had not heard back from you or Declan.
The fact that it ever reached my desk was regrettable in that the conversations escalated through Aaron. There was some idea that your content had been delivered by a label but wasn’t completely ingested. (We’ve had some ingestion problems this year that were producing weird results like that.) I don’t know where that mistruth originated but I know what I saw in email threads prior to my involvement. I saw some opportunities to handle your case better.
Long story short: We’re sorry. I’m sorry. Aaron is sorry. Not our M.O. but we made changes anyway. Email me if you ever have a problem again.
@Paul Resnikoff, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t publish my email. I think I’ve given you enough as of late but if you find it within your realm of journalistic responsibility to do so, I won’t hold it against you.”
At this moment, a majority of Fripp’s work (minus songs he has made guest appearances on and a few tracks from A King Crimson ProjeKct) have been removed from Grooveshark. It would be interesting to hear what “bug” Singleton was referring to and whether it could present a future issue for other streaming services, if it hasn’t already (that could possibly explain how Metal Blade’s catalog originally got onto Spotify supposedly without their permission). Either way, it looks like all streaming sites need to have more communication with labels AND artists.