Grooveshark has come back online — but not officially or in exactly the same form. What's being called a clone of Grooveshark is now being hosted at Grooveshark.io (the original site was a .com), allowing visitors to keep streaming, downloading, and searching for music files, including the many, many copyrighted files that got the original site in trouble.
The cloned site's creator, who goes under the pseudonym Shark, claims to have started backing up Grooveshark after suspecting that it was about to go offline. Shark claims to have backed up 90 percent of Grooveshark's content and to have also assembled a team dedicated to bringing all of Grooveshark's features, including playlists and favorites, back online. "I was connected to Grooveshark a few years back and I have, together with the team I've gathered, the knowledge and the technological abilities to bring it back to life," Shark writes in an email to The Verge.
It sounds challenging, to say the least, to scrape 90 percent of Grooveshark's content, but there may be another explanation for how Grooveshark.io came about so quickly. The site appears to be a rebranding of mp3juices.se, another music piracy site. That makes these claims seem less likely to be accurate, suggesting that Shark may instead be using the Grooveshark name to bring attention to mp3juices.
"It’s going to be a roller coaster, and we’re ready for it."
The original Grooveshark was (in)famous for being an easy way to find and stream copyrighted music for free. Because those files were uploaded by users, Grooveshark was able to live for years behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which somewhat shielded it from copyright issues so long as it promptly removed problematic files at a copyright holder's request. While those removals had occurred, it was still fairly easy to locate copyrighted songs on the site. Grooveshark was in court over the issue for some time and finally shut down last week after settling with labels. Though that means there's no final ruling on Grooveshark's legality, it's a clear win for the labels. "We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation," Grooveshark wrote in a note announcing its closure.
That means Grooveshark.io is on pretty shaky ground, though its creators seem to be well aware of that. Shark tells BGR, "It’s going to be a roller coaster, and we’re ready for it." At the same time, Grooveshark.io is still feigning an interest in playing by the rules. The site has a lengthy disclaimer about how its files aren't added manually, which goes on to say that you shouldn't download anything copyrighted because that'd be illegal. It writes, "Please respect these terms and conditions and support the artists!"
Grooveshark.io doesn't appear to allow visitors to upload their music, unlike the original site. Instead, it claims to be a music search engine that crawls the web for music hosted elsewhere, which could distance it from legal troubles. Of course, that's only true if the claim is true. Grooveshark.io says that all of its content is hosted on third-party servers and that it'll even display where the music was indexed from. In our brief testing, however, that turned out to be false. It took a matter of seconds to find a copyrighted song hosted under the site's domain. Maybe Grooveshark.io doesn't own the actual servers, but that's not exactly what "third party" means.
Already, Grooveshark.io was briefly brought down today amid a flurry of attention. Shark tells The Verge that the site's hosting company closed its server; it's now up and running again, apparently hosted elsewhere. "I have huge and unexpected plans for Grooveshark," Shark writes, "and I promise you this is not even close to being its end."
Update May 6th, 8:35AM ET: This story has been updated to note that Grooveshark.io appears to be a rebranding of mp3juices.se. The article's former headline, "Grooveshark has been cloned and its music is back online," has also been corrected to reflect the new information.