Court Realizes That Maybe It Can't Order Cloudflare To Proactively Block Any New Grooveshark From Ever Appearing

from the that's-not-how-this-works dept

After Grooveshark shut down a few months ago, some individuals set up a site that looked kind of like Grooveshark, but with a totally different backend, and used a variety of URLs that included Grooveshark on different top level domain systems. The RIAA, as it's been known to do, freaked out, and filed a lawsuit. As part of this, it sought a restraining order and injunction, which it got. The RIAA then insisted that the restraining order applied to CDN provider Cloudflare, despite not actually being a part of the case. Cloudflare, as a non-party worried about the impact of such a restraining order, stepped into the case to protest, but the judge still ruled against Cloudflare despite the fact that the ridiculously broad injunction went really far, basically saying that no site with the word "Grooveshark" in the domain could use Cloudflare, even if that was a domain like "GroovesharkSucks-GoBuyMusic.com."

Cloudflare complied, but asked the court to modify the ridiculously overbroad injunction, as it could easily be read to say that Cloudflare itself then had to proactively police every use of its service to make sure no one tried to similarly post a Grooveshark-related site. Instead, it asked the judge to, at the very least, require the RIAA to alert Cloudflare to sites that it believed were violating the injunction. The RIAA, of course, argued that Cloudflare had the full responsibility of proactively making sure no new Groovesharks showed up. The judge has now clarified the original injunction, saying that, yes, the RIAA needs to alert Cloudflare to any future problematic sites, but denying Cloudflare's request for a five day turnaround time.

The initial injunction still seems tremendously problematic in just how broad it is. Here's what it covers, saying that basically anyone is barred from:
  1. Using the Grooveshark Marks in any manner in connection with the advertising, offering for sale, or sale of any service or product, not provided by or authorized by Plaintiff UMG.
  2. Committing any acts calculated to cause consumers to believe that the Counterfeit Service or any other use of the Grooveshark Marks is offered under the control and supervision of Plaintiff UMG or sponsored or approved by, or connected with, or guaranteed by, or produced under the control and supervision of Plaintiff
  3. Infringing any of the Grooveshark Marks and damaging Plaintiff goodwill;
  4. Otherwise competing unfairly with Plaintiff UMG in any manner; or
  5. Using, linking to, transferring, selling, exercising control over, or otherwise owning the domain names grooveshark.io or groovesharkpw or any other domain name that incorporates, in whole or in part, any of Grooveshark Marks (the "Infringing Domain Names").
  6. Directly or secondarily infringing Plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings via the Counterfeit Service or any variations thereof.
While I don't care what happens to Grooveshark itself or these copyrights, it seems quite disturbing that a judge can issue such a broad injunction that can impact so many third parties, potentially making them liable should someone do something that "unfairly competes with Universal Music in any manner." Part of the point of SOPA was to add these kinds of injunctions to the law but Congress did not approve SOPA. So why is the court acting like it has this power?

Again, it's easy to say "meh, no big deal, whoever set up these sites were clearly infringing" or even to attack them for setting up a fake Grooveshark. But this goes beyond that, and raises serious questions about the court's powers to order third parties to block all access to websites without full due process.




Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: injunction, restraining order, site blocking
Companies: cloudflare, grooveshark, riaa


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    M. Alan Thomas II (profile), 10 Jul 2015 @ 1:44pm

    Committing any acts calculated to cause consumers to believe that the Counterfeit Service or any other use of the Grooveshark Marks is offered under the control and supervision of Plaintiff UMG or sponsored or approved by, or connected with, or guaranteed by, or produced under the control and supervision of Plaintiff

    Infringing any of the Grooveshark Marks and damaging Plaintiff goodwill;

    Otherwise competing unfairly with Plaintiff UMG in any manner; or

    Directly or secondarily infringing Plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings via the Counterfeit Service or any variations thereof.
    Each of those involve specific findings of fact—especially where questions such as intent or fair use might arise—but the court is rubberstamping UMG's future allegations before they've even been made. Part of the point of having an independent court system and jury trials is supposed to be that plaintiffs do not get to judge the merits of their own cases. This order throws that out the window.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.