R.I.P. TO SPINRILLA
SPINRILLA, the popular site that enabled users to create mixtapes of Hip-Hop tracks has shut down after agreeing to pay USD $50 million over copyright infringement.
A group that included record labels from all of the big three recording companies sued Spinrilla in 2017. Alleging that “a substantial amount of content uploaded to the website” belonged to the record companies.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
In a judgment issued last Wednesday (May 3). US District Court judge Amy Totenberg, who sits on the bench for the northern district of Georgia, Atlanta division. Ordered Spinrilla and its founder, Jeffrey Copeland, to pay the record companies the $50 million fine. Giving Spinrilla five days to take its services offline.
The ruling also prohibited all employees of Spinrilla. As well as people who worked “in active concert or participation” with Spinrilla. From ever operating a service “that is substantively similar to the Spinrilla Service.”
The plaintiffs in the case were Warner Music Group’s Atlantic Records and Electra Records. Sony Music Entertainment’s LaFace Records. Arista Music, Zomba Records and Sony Music US Latin. As well as Universal Music Group’s Bad Boy Records and Capitol Records, along with Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z’s now-defunct label.
In its defense against the lawsuit. Spinrilla argued that it had been “cooperating for years in a variety of ways” with the record companies. “To successfully prevent and remove unauthorized music from Spinrilla.com.”
The company has invoked the “safe harbor” clause of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
However, in a 2020, Judge Totenberg rejected that defense, noting that Spinrilla hadn’t met the requirements for safe harbor. The company didn’t have the required policy towards repeat infringers.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
The Judge Totenberg, identified that 4,082 tracks have been uploaded and distributed without permission.
Under the DMCA, each violation carries a penalty of between $750 and $150,000. The ruling exposed Spinrilla and Copeland to a penalty between $3 million and $612 million.
Spinrilla and Copeland submitted an offer of judgment to the court. Under which the defendants agreed to a $50 million fine. Forced to shut down the service permanently.
Spinrilla had millions of users since its launch in 2013. The service’s Android app had more than 10 million downloads on the Google Play Store. Some 195,000 followers on its Twitter feed, which is still live, and a similar amount of followers on Facebook.
The case has echoes of the fight between music streaming site Grooveshark and Universal Music Group. Which ended in 2015 when Grooveshark’s founders agreed to shutter the site in exchange for avoiding paying financial damages.
Grooveshark’s founders: Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino. Agreed they would pay $75 million if they were ever found infringing the majors’ copyrights again. (Greenberg was found dead two months after the settlement with UMG was agreed.)
In December 2015, streaming service Aurous – dubbed “the new Grooveshark”. Shut down and agreed to pay $3 million in damages to the major music companies.
Major DJ organizations like Fleet DJs has Mixtape Divisions which has members who utilize platforms such as Spinrilla. This instant shut-down leaves questions from the mixtape DJ communities.
The major label may have won their infringement case. The question is what about the DJ’s who’ve invested major money into their mixtape and uploaded legitimate projects? What about the independent artist who uses Spinrilla as an alternative distribution outlet? Where’s the music? What about the invested money as subscribers?
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