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Grooveshark faces ban in UK, top executive murdered

on November 13, 2013, 5:49pm

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Before the rise of Rdio, Spotify, and other streaming services, Grooveshark served as one of the early pioneers of legitimate online music consumption, helping to innovate the process by placing more choice in users’ hands. Despite its popularity, though, the start-up has seen its fair share of troubles over its near-decade-long history. In January 2012, Grooveshark was sued by every major US label (EMI, Universal, Sony, and Warner) over a failure to pay royalties. From there, growing concerns over the service’s legality led to it being banned on Google Play, the iOS App Store, and Facebook platform at various stages over the last several years.

Now, the company once again faces major setbacks as the British Phonographic Industry, the UK record industry’s trade organization, is gearing up to block Grooveshark from all UK ISPs. According to a report filled by TorrentFreak, the issue stems as far back as mid-2012, when BPI conducted its first round of “bulk site blocking”in the UK. In a series of communications, the BPI engaged members of the music licensing outfit PPL to gauge whether a submitted list of sites (which included Grooveshark alongside Demonoid and Kickass Torrents) had procured any new streaming licenses, at which point any non-compliers were blocked via High Court rulings. When the survey was released this past February, Grooveshark was spared from the chopping block.

According to several sources, Grooveshark’s continued operation in the UK came only after the BPI removed them from the list of offending sites. Various reports cited Grooveshark’s then-ongoing legislation with the Big Four of US labels, in addition to a new batch of licensing deals that were in the works. But then, back in May, with Grooveshark slowly returning to the US label’s good graces, the BPI launched another line of acquisition directed solely at Grooveshark.

All PPL entries were to be submitted by November 11th, and based on past BPI timelines, results and rulings could be handed down by early next year. While BPI claims they “regularly carry out intelligence on unlicensed websites,” TorrentFreak admits a new round of blocks, coming just 18 months after the first, spells certain doom for Grooveshark’s stake in the UK. In their piece, TorrentFreak, which has routinely broken news on BitTorrent protocol and file sharing, outlined their argument:

“It’s fairly obvious what this is all about and where it will lead. In a mirror image of a process already carried out twice in the past 18 months, the BPI has prompted a music licensing outfit to poll its members to discover if they have licenses with the US-based service. In every instance so far, this has led to subsequent court action and a blocking of affected sites by the UK’s major ISPs. Grooveshark has failed to become a service the labels are prepared to recommended to the public as they would a product like Spotify. In fact, there are signs that the labels still have bad feeling towards the US-based company, and not just on home soil either.”

News of the block comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Grooveshark. On early Saturday, 27-year-old Eddy Vasquez, the company’s director of international sales, was shot and killed in St. Petersburg, FL. According to The Gainesville Sun, Vasquez and friend/former classmate Andres Rodriguez Torres were out bar-hopping when the two began arguing in a local Publix, at which point Torres shot Vasquez twice in the chest. Torres fled the scene but was eventually arrested on charges of armed kidnapping and second-degree murder.

In a statement, the company wrote, “Grooveshark as a (whole) mourns the tragic loss of one of its employees, Eddy D. Vasquez. Mr. Vasquez was visiting friends and family in the Tampa Bay area over the weekend when he fell victim to a senseless act of violence. We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague.”

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