Grooveshark Responds To King Crimson Complaints

    Last week, we reported on an e-mail exchange between Grooveshark Senior Vice President Paul Geller and King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and his team. Their conversation was brought to light by the folks at Digital Music News, who were CC’d on every e-mail. And several days later, Geller reached out to us at Prefix to give his side of the story.

    The debate between Geller and Fripp’s team started when the King Crimson guitarist requested to have his band’s music taken off the streaming music service. The more recent interactions between the two sides occurred in September and then last week, when Fripp again fired off an e-mail voicing his frustration over seeing his band’s music on the site. This led to our reporting on the matter.

    As Geller tells it, the King Crimson guitarist had a frustrating e-mail exchange with a former Grooveshark employee. Fripp was sending over song names without links to the files on the streaming service, which Geller explains isn’t the site’s normal practice for removing files.

    “We ask anyone who finds content on our servers that they have not authorized to send in links to the song. I don’t think that’s terribly troublesome,” he wrote to us in an e-mail. “They can submit a form standard to most sites that participate in the conventions of Title II of the DMCA.”

    Eventually, Fripp and his team followed the standard procedure and sent in links to the albums that were available on Grooveshark. Geller said that it’s never been the site’s policy to remove full albums “because they weren’t direct links to files.” But he saw it as a reasonable request and his staff learned that links to full albums was actually the most efficient means for copyright owners to have their works removed.

    Geller explained that once the necessary information was received, Grooveshark took three actions:

    1. They disabled all inbound links to the files.
    2. They removed the files from all already existing playlists.
    3. They blocked any user identified as having uploaded the content from ever being able to upload again. Geller explained that their “1-strike” policy is aggressive and the reason why they request that the complainant swear that they have the rights to the files that they are complaining about.


    According to Geller, this all occurred prior to the aforementioned e-mail exchange that Digital Music News reported on. And in his words, “The story gets more frustrating from there.” He explained that a process that had worked 1.7 million times in the past didn’t work on the final batch of King Crimson songs. As such, he received an e-mail from Fripp indicating that the links to the band’s music were still up.

    This irked Geller, who noted that this had never occurred in the past and that it “likely had something to do with our server migration but it was fixed nonetheless.” But he said that if you search for King Crimson on Grooveshark, you will see results occasionally that will not play. This, he added, is a remnant of the site’s takedown procedure.

    Then, seemingly randomly, Geller received the most recent letter from Fripp. The Grooveshark VP said that he asked Fripp to send an e-mail following up if he still saw his band’s music on the site. But Geller received nothing up until last week. It was then that he said “[Digital Music News] summarily published a headline that of course made it seem like King Crimson couldn’t get their stuff off of Grooveshark.”  

    “[That] wasn’t the sentiment of the email thread, nor was it true,” Geller continued. “We processed his (Fripp’s) takedowns, banned users from uploading, cut off access to files in playlists that already existed and changed two policies that had served us well to date, all on Mr. Fripp’s account.

    “Short of shutting down one of the only open music sharing services in the world, I don’t know how we could have satisfied Mr. Fripp,” Geller said.” In fact, he has said as much in his emails.”

    It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes next and what this means for the continuously developing world of online streaming music services. What do you, the reader, think of all this?