A judge has handed controversial music streaming service Grooveshark a major win in a dispute with record label Universal Music, rejecting an argument which would make Grooveshark responsible for determining the copyright status of all pre-1972 recordings. Arguing in a New York court, Universal had attempted to claim that safe harbor provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) do not apply to recordings made before 1972, as the recordings were not covered by federal copyright law at the time of their creation.

It's a flimsy argument — as Techdirt points out, it "failed spectacularly" when EMI attempted to use it against MP3tunes last year. In addition to having its DMCA claims rejected, Universal was slapped down by the judge over attempts to have certain counterclaims by Grooveshark dismissed. The company won a few minor dismissals of similar claims, but the balance of yesterday's ruling is decidedly in Grooveshark's favor.