Did a Grooveshark Employee Admit to Pirating Entire Albums?

Has an employee blown the whistle on Grooveshark? Parent company Escape Media Group has subpoenaed the trade publication Digital Music News for information about a comment posted on its site that seems to confirm that Grooveshark’s employees have been pirating songs from major record labels.

“I work for Grooveshark,” the anonymous commenter wrote on October 17, 2011. “We are assigned a predetermined amount of weekly uploads to the system and get a small extra bonus if we manage to go above that (not easy).”

Escape Media Group had previously defended Grooveshark’s use of copyrighted music by citing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects companies from violations committed by users.

According to the self-proclaimed employee, the users are more likely to upload their own music than that of a major record label. “Practically speaking,” he or she pointed out, “there is not much need for users to upload a major label album since we already take care of this on a daily basis.”

The comment was written in response to an email exchange between King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, his team, and Grooveshark over the use of his music that was cc’d to Digital Music News owner Paul Resnikoff and published on the site.

Naturally, Grooveshark wanted to know who this person was.  The company is demanding that Digital Music News disclose the commenter’s name, address, telephone number and e-mail address, as well as the IP Address, ISP or anything else that would confirm the person’s location. Grooveshark has also requested copies of all correspondence between Digital Music News, Grooveshark employees and Universal Music Group.

The comment may have prompted the copyright lawsuits against EMG from all four major record labels, starting with Universal Music Group and followed by Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. EMI Music Publishing, which did have a licensing agreement with Escape Media Group, filed a separate suit for breach of contract.

But Universal Music Group had also submitted a number of internal emails between Grooveshark executives as evidence that the company was willfully pirating their music.  The comment posted on Digital Music News was not exactly the foundation of the record label’s lawsuit.

In a post on Digital Music News, owner Paul Resnikoff called that aspect of the case “a bit flimsy, especially given the anonymous and unsubstantiated identity of the whistleblower in question.”

But he also expects protection from laws that protect whistleblowers from coming forward and journalists from revealing their sources. Resnikoff told AllThingsDigital, “We’re just incredibly committed to protecting any informants or sources of information.”

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