Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grooveshark v Universal: Can you believe some people?

Grooveshark is an online music community that lets users search for, stream, and upload music. I think it is essentially trying to be like Facebook for music. Since there is music involved, naturally UMG sued Grooveshark for copyright infringement. Of course they did.
Ordinarily, this would be just another "music industry sues website" case without much interest really. So ordinarily my sentiments would be with Grooveshark as I abhor the bullying tactics prevalent with the entertainment industry. But the thing that makes this case different is that apparently UMG got ahold of some really incriminating emails that purport to be authored by Sina Simantob, Chairman of Grooveshark. In some of those emails, Sina writes:
The only thing that I want to add is this: we are achieving all this growth without paying a dime to any of the labels
We bet the company on the fact that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission
WHAT?!?! Who puts that stuff in email? Are people crazy? It's not like these guys at Grooveshark don't have lawyers, they've been sued before. Didn't someone have the good sense to tell them that anything they put in an email will, undoubtedly, come back to bite them one day? It's one thing to violate the law, it's a completely different thing to brag about it online.
Two things smack me in the face about this:
  1. This guy Sina's confidence about that DMCA safe harbor provision is about to hit a brick wall called karma courtesy of the legal system. Mark my words, those emails alone will kill any defense Grooveshark ever had.
  2. The lawyers for Grooveshark should be fired, then drawn and quartered for allowing emails like this to have ever been created in the first place, and to linger more than 30 seconds in the second place.
Lesson for you people: Don't use email. Just don't do it. But if you must (which is most of us really) absolutely, under no circumstances, ever ever ever write an incriminating email. Ever! You don't think anyone will ever see it, but they will. They will.
Through litigation, I have personally gotten hold of private emails authored by Steve Jobs himself. I bet Steve Jobs never in a million years thought some lawyer in Seattle would one day be reading his email. But I did. And I might be reading yours one day too. So don't do it. Just don't do it.