It's been five years since the Universal Music Group first brought its legal team against Grooveshark, a music streaming site. Now it looks like the defendant will pay a dramatic amount, approaching a billion dollars in fines. Universal had looked to make an example out of the relatively small site, claiming that it would unleash "legal jihad" on the company, and it looks as if they aim to follow through.
The initial lawsuit dealt with issues of willful copyright infringement and absolutely nothing helped Grooveshark's case in court. Among the information presented by Universal was proof of data being erased, as well as e-mails essentially collaborating the claims. The fact that Grooveshark was award of its copyright infringement means that the court may impose heavier punishments than if the incidents had been incidental.
A lot heavier.
Digital Music News reports that the price-per-violation may increase up to 400 percent, from $30,000 to $150,000. The jury will be able to determine a final number somewhere between those two numbers, depending on how badly they believe Escape Media (the owner of Grooveshark) behaved, but the maximum damages could be up to $736,050,000, according to attorney Ray Beckerman.
That's the kind of thing that shuts a streaming site of Grooveshark's scope down, and deters other small investors from entering the market. What's worse is if other major labels take a hint from Universal's success and bring their own lawsuits against Grooveshark.
Granted, things actually could have been much worse if Universal's initial lawsuit had worked out. While the current case involves 4,900 examples of violations, Universal initially cited nearly 114,000 examples, which would have ended up costing Escape Media $17.1 billion...or $4 billion more than BP was fined by the U.S. government for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.