Sep. 4, 2012 at 5:26 PM ET
Grooveshark was banned from Google Play, Google's app store, about a year ago. When the app suddenly reappeared in the store last week, Grooveshark issued a statement saying it had worked with Google to remove rogue Grooveshark-esque apps and was delighted with the reinstatement of the official Grooveshark app.
Not so fast — a Google spokesperson told the New York Times "the company had not worked with Grooveshark to reinstate the app," and added that the program had been removed for a violation of Google’s policies for developers.
Copyright infringement was the most likely violation, and Grooveshark indirectly confirmed the allegation in an official statement sent to TechNewsDaily: "Grooveshark as an app is not a copyright infringement, and Google should recognize through their experience with YouTube that our actual partner artists and labels are suffering every day our app is down."
The company said it has filed a counter-notice and is working with Google and its Google Play reinstatement process to get the app back on the market. (Meanwhile, Grooveshark for Android is available on the company website. Grooveshark is not available in Apple's App Store and must be played through a browser unless you're using a jailbroken iPhone.)
Grooveshark has been the target of multiple record industry lawsuits claiming copyright infringement, with the plaintiffs including Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal. Most of the trouble comes from the fact that Grooveshark allows users to upload their own music, which then becomes part of the site's music library, accessible to its users. According to Grooveshark's Terms of Service, users are responsible for ensuring they have the right to make uploaded sound files available.
In addition to songs provided by users, Grooveshark populates its library with tracks from record labels and independent artists. Grooveshark says it honors all takedown requests that comply with the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1996 law that aims to protect artists and their representatives from others who would distribute their work without permission. A takedown form is provided on the site to file a complaint.
Copyright disputes aside, Grooveshark is incredibly easy to use and offers features that its competitors lack. For instance, Pandora and Last.fm let you pick an artist or song and then stream music based on your selection. You'll have a limited number of skips and you can't see what's coming up. With Grooveshark, you can choose a station that plays a specific genre like classical or electronica, and then add individual tracks to your own playlists. You can also build a playlist and have Grooveshark choose music based on the entire playlist rather than a single song or artist. And you may skip as many times you'd like. If you upgrade to a paid account without ads, you can loop songs, fade between songs and listen offline.
Grooveshark's playlists are similar to Spotify's, but it takes a different approach to sharing music. If you stream music on Spotify, each song will automatically get posted to Facebook unless you turn on a private session. Sharing on Grooveshark requires you to click the "share" button, and once you do you can share to less-traditional outlets such as Reddit in addition to Facebook and Twitter.
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