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Music labels get huge victory in quest to sue Grooveshark out of business

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Grooveshark's employees found guilty of direct copyright infringement

It appears Grooveshark's days are just about numbered. The music sharing service has been dealt what could easily amount to a death blow by a US District Court judge, which found that Grooveshark's own employees personally (and willfully) violated and profited from copyright infringement. It's been a long saga; Grooveshark has faced lawsuit after lawsuit in recent years. It's managed to overcome some by striking deals with publishers, but vengeful music labels haven't given up on sinking the company.

Most recently, Grooveshark had tried to seek protection under the "safe harbor" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It took on a Google-like approach when responding to takedown notices by taking down unauthorized files mentioned in those complaints. But US District Judge Thomas Griesa essentially wiped out that possibility in his opinion filed on Monday, and Grooveshark's own employees are to blame. Collectively, they uploaded some 5,977 tracks to the service — without the necessary licensing rights to do so — under the orders of CTO and co-founder Joshua Greenberg. Way back in 2007, Greenberg demanded that his workers help the cause by sharing their own MP3s, obtained from who knows where, on the service.

Download as many MP3’s as possible, and add them to the folders you’re sharing on Grooveshark. Some of us are setting up special "seed points" to house tens or even hundreds of thousands of files, but we can’t do this alone… There is no reason why ANYONE in the company should not be able to do this, and I expect everyone to have this done by Monday… IF I DON’T HAVE AN EMAIL FROM YOU IN MY INBOX BY MONDAY, YOU’RE ON MY OFFICIAL SHIT LIST.

That library now stands at over million songs, and Grooveshark has tallied some 20 million users since launch. There have been blips of hope; the company has managed to reach agreements with some publishers and labels to share their music legally, but not with the major labels determined to sue it out of existence.

If that evidence weren't damning enough, Griesa also found that Grooveshark deleted data crucial to the case, including documents listing uploaded files — likely in an attempt to save itself. Specifics on damages and a potential injunction haven't been handed down just yet, so Grooveshark has some time to figure out its next step, if there's even one to be made other than appeal.