Grooveshark, the free online streaming music service, is being sued by EMI. The music label claims that Grooveshark has failed to pay royalties for music delivered through their service. This joins lawsuits from Warner Music Group, Universal Music and Sony Entertainment Music. EMI, the only label to have a formal licensing relationship with Grooveshark, claims that the streaming service has failed to make even one royalties payment.
The New York Times reports that EMI is seeking a royalties payment of $150,000 and Grooveshark's parent company, Escape Media Group, says that the matter is nothing more than a "contract dispute".
Grooveshark has a user base of approximately 35 million members, all of whom are able of uploading their own tracks to the websites music library - most of which is copyrighted material - which are then subject to takedown orders under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The basis for this current lawsuit, however, is on the back of claims alledgedly made by a Grooveshark employee that Grooveshark staff regularly uploads music to the website, a move that is not protected by the DMCA.
Universal is seeking the maximum damages allowable by law, $150,000 per song which adds up to $17.1 billion in total. This lawsuit was later joined by Warner and Sony, meaning that Grooveshark is now being sued by all four of the major record labels.