Remember that Gainesville-based free music-sharing service called Grooveshark? It's been so long since we've heard about it or used it that we sort of just assumed it went out of business a while ago. But an April 30 post on the Grooveshark website letting users know that it was closing down clued us in that, surprisingly, it's been active all of this time.
Grooveshark gained notoriety a few years ago for its complete disregard for copyright laws. It was accused of uploading thousands of songs to its database that it did not have permission to distribute. Unlike some other music- and file-sharing services, it also stubbornly refused to remove said songs from its servers even after artists and record companies threatened to sue. And, eventually, the suits did come. Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Warner Music all came down on Grooveshark with claims that it infringed on copyrights as a policy and encouraged employees to upload songs to its streaming service, which once boasted as many as 35 million users.
Last year, a judge ruled against Grooveshark, opening the company and its ownership, Escape Media Group, up to massive monetary damages – more than $700 million, by some estimates.
But instead of holding its own and insisting that it never did anything wrong – which used to be Grooveshark's primary legal strategy – it capitulated last week, agreeing to shut down for good and issue a public apology acknowledging that the record companies were right all along and that the only thing slimier than a record company executive was a Grooveshark one.
"Despite the best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes," the apology letter uploaded to Grooveshark.com reads. "We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservations."
The letter goes on to note that as part of the legal agreement with the record companies, Grooveshark would hand over ownership of its website, mobile apps, intellectual property rights and patents.
Karma's a bitch.