Klein & Wilson

Judge rules Grooveshark's copyright violations were willful

California music lovers may be interested in a judge's recent ruling issued before the copyright infringement trial against music download giant Grooveshark. In its ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York stated that the violations by Grooveshark were willful and were made in bad faith, opening up the company to potential damages of $736 million.

At trial, the only issue that is left to be decided is the amount of damages the jury will assess. The judge's ruling allows the jury to consider awarding damages against the company of up to $150,000 for each of the 5,000 songs which are a part of the federal lawsuit against the company.

The judge presiding over the case issued a ruling in September 2014 in which he indicated the company is liable. According to court documents, the company's directors ordered employees to upload songs for which they did not have permission from the copyright holders. Nine recording companies are the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit. Grooveshark intends to present mitigation at its trial about steps it took to try to secure licenses for the songs.

Courts take copyright infringement very seriously, and violating companies can end up having to shut down due to the large amount of damages that are often ordered. Napster, another company that had a business model similar to that of Grooveshark, closed its doors due to its commission of copyright violations that were much the same in nature. Businesses may want to take steps to protect their intellectual property through obtaining copyrights and trademark registration. In the event another party then violates the copyright or trademark, the owner may then want to consider filing an infringement lawsuit. The violator may then be ordered to pay damages for every instance of misappropriation.

Source: Reuters, "Grooveshark copyright violations 'willful,' judge says before trial," Andrew Chung, April 24, 2015.

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