Grooveshark is no stranger to disputes over copyright and license fees, but today the service had to actually take itself down in Germany. Starting today German Grooveshark users who try to use the service will get a message saying that they can’t access it from their country.
The issue for Grooveshark is license fees instated by GEMA, a German group that represents over 2 million rights holders and has a total of 64,000 members. GEMA asked Grooveshark to pay “unreasonably high” licensing fees, So Grooveshark decided to just pack up and leave the country. In it’s stay the service left a message asking users to “send a polite message to GEMA” to attempt to reduce the cost of the license fees. Grooveshark also recommended that users test out Simfy for their music, though they could always resort to using proxies instead.
While GEMA is somewhat in the wrong here by asking for high licensing fees, which could also explain why Spotify and Vevo aren’t available in the country, Grooveshark isn’t entirely innocent. The service is currently involved in lawsuits with the four major record labels (Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI) over copyright infringement. The company relies on users to post music to service, most of which ends up being music the users don’t have the rights to. For that reason I find it hard to sympathize with Grooveshark. I do feel bad for German music lovers, though, because they don’t seem to have too many legal alternatives for streaming music.