Aimee Mann Wins First Round of Digital Music Lawsuit | Billboard

In July, Aimee Mann brought a noteworthy lawsuit over the possible existence of a massive amount of unlicensed music being streamed online.

In the cross-hairs of Mann’s multimillion-dollar legal claims was a company called MediaNet, originally backed by EMI, AOL, BMG and RealNetworks before being taken over by a private equity firm. MediaNet is essentially a white label that has served up more than 22 million songs to more than 40 music services, including Yahoo Music,, eBay and various online radio services.

Mann sued the company for allegedly infringing 120 of her songs, saying that a license agreement signed in 2003 expired three years later. There was also hint that she wasn’t alone. Her lawyer told The Hollywood Reporter at the time that the lawsuit served “as a call to other artists to follow the lead set by Radiohead and Pink Floyd to put an end to the unlicensed, uncompensated use of their music by online services.”

In reaction to the lawsuit, MediaNet maintained it had a valid license. On Friday, however, a California federal judge punched a big hole in this defense.



Aimee Mann Exploited by Russian Brides, Wells Fargo Bank and Nationwide Insurance

“Google & The World Brain” Airing Now on Al Jazeera America

This may be the single most important piece of work to date that explores the rights and concerns of creators in the digital age. The film details how Google has made plans to commercially monetize and monopolize all creative works for their own corporate profit.



The goal of accumulating all human knowledge in one repository has been a dream since ancient times. Only recently, however, has that dream become a reality. Quietly and behind closed doors, Google has been executing a project to scan and digitize every printed word on the planet. Working with the world’s most prestigious libraries, the webmasters are reinventing the limits of copyright in the name of free access to anyone, anywhere. What can possibly be wrong with this? As “Google and the World Brain reveals,” a whole lot.

Some argue that Google’s actions represent aggressive theft on an enormous scale, others see them as an attempt to monopolize our shared cultural heritage, and still others view the project as an attempt to flatten our minds by consolidating complex ideas into searchable “extra long tweets.”

At first slowly, and then with intensifying conviction, a diverse coalition mobilizes to stop the fulfillment of this ambitious dream. Incisive and riveting as it uncovers a high-stakes multinational heist, Ben Lewis’s film voices an important alternative to the technological utopianism of our time.

Grooveshark On The Hook : Notice and Shakedown

We salute Tunecore CEO Jeff Price who recently called for a boycott of Grooveshark on his company Blog. This after a series of articles from varied and respected media outlets such as Digital Music News, Hypebot, Billboard, and others who have been reporting on Grooveshark’s unethical practices against artists and the resulting lawsuit by the major labels.

But this isn’t just about major labels, it’s also about indie artists and labels who have been victim to Grooveshark’s practices for years. Just one example is from Helienne Lindvall who detailed her attempts to have her music removed from the site in painstaking detail, to no avail. Later we’ll show how other artists and labels experience is exactly the same as hers.

Grooveshark illustrates the failing of the DMCA by creating an incentive to build a business on infringement. Previously YouTube did it and that practice is now at the center of the recently appealed, billion dollar lawsuit with Viacom. At the heart of the matter is ethics.

The DMCA was designed to protect Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from liability if they had no knowledge of infringing material. The DMCA was also designed to provide protection for artists to have their work removed from an ISP (website, etc) if it was discovered to be there. In other words, the DMCA was drafted to give a little latitude to reasonable people acting reasonably and to empower artists to protect their rights without having to file a federal copyright lawsuit.

Grooveshark, like YouTube before it, has exploited this loophole in an attempt to build a business on infringement. The attraction of this business model is substantial as there are no licenses, fees or negotiations and no artist royalty payments, ever. All they have to do is plead ignorance, and wait for the DMCA notices to come in. And, once the notices come in, just wait for another user to upload the same material again. And so it goes on and on; the DMCA dance of death until artists are too exhausted or broke to continue.

The really insidious part of the Grooveshark model is representative of the old saying, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness later, than to ask for permission.” This is also known as “negotiation via lawsuit.” Grooveshark’s strategy appears to be: lure in artists as they seek to have their illegally exploited work removed, and then try to get the artist to sign a license agreement. This heavy handed approach has been aptly titled, “Notice and Shakedown.” Thankfully, a lot of artists are smart enough to question such shady practices.

We know of at least one indie label who when they contacted Grooveshark to take down offending material were met with the smarmy onslaught and the hard sell.  You can see the pitch here in the first sentence of a DMCA query on the site.

“If your music was posted up without your permission and you’d like to have it removed, please click here to access our DMCA takedown form — we highly recommend, however, that you contact us first to talk about ways that Grooveshark can fairly compensate you for your music!”

Ah, yeah right. Exploit my work, then try to negotiate with me (using fuzzy math based on Spotify model) about how much you are not going to pay! At least Spotify is legal, and I can actually remove my titles. But it doesn’t end there.

“You have full control over all songs in music catalogue. This includes the option of removing them all together. It only takes a minute just follow these steps:”

Uh, yeah, ok, but keep in mind at this point, Grooveshark is only helping me to “manage my catalog” which just happens to be on the site illegally. Also removing the songs via their “rights management” system avoids a DMCA takedown. The entire set up of Grooveshark is to engage artists and content owners in a conversation to negotiate with Grooveshark, on Grooveshark’s terms because guess what, they already have your music illegally, and they’re not paying you. But wait there’s more…

“Currently, songs can only be removed one at a time – we’re sorry if this is an inconvenience. Please let us know if you need any help along the way”

Yes, you can help me. You can remove my catalog from your site that I didn’t give you permission to profit from by monetizing it against advertising. And the way to do that is to click on the DMCA form for a proper take down. Of course, you’d hope this would be the case, but unfortunately not so as witnessed by this report on Digital Music News from famed guitar legend Robert Fripp which is nearly identical to that of Helienne Lindvall. Even classical indie artist Zoe Keating could not get her music removed from the site after issuing at least six DMCA notices to Grooveshark.

As if all this we’re not bad enough CNET reported on internal emails that show how Grooveshark was intentionally using the illegal exploitation of artists work as the basis for it’s business model. Unfortunately, not everyone sees this practice as deceitful and unethical; TechDirt has rallied to support Grooveshark despite serious complaints dating back to 2009 by indie label DashGo.

Ultimately we’re encouraged that one of the things the internet is really good at is sharing information. As more artists become educated about their rights, and how they are being exploited, we can see that they are speaking out against these unethical attacks to their livelihood.