WaTunes: Apple Bows to Label Pressure, Yanks Grooveshark From App Store

August 19, 2010 at 2:20 am Leave a comment

Source: Wired.com

Apple probably wasn’t trying to time its deletion of Grooveshark’s music app from its App Store to coincide with the lively debate  on Wired.com about the future of the open web vs. the future of apps. But its actions on Monday are a perfect demonstration of the sort of chokepoints that exist in the mobile app world — but not on the web.

It took Apple months to approve Grooveshark’s app, but one complaint from the U.K. office of Universal Music Group prompted Apple to delete it. (broken iTunes link).

On the web, anyone can access the Grooveshark.com music streaming service for free, while a $3 monthly fee removes advertisements and allows use of desktop and mobile apps. Grooveshark is still available on Android, Blackberry, Palm WebOS and Symbian/Nokia, but iPhone owners are out of luck unless they downloaded the app in the five days it was available on iTunes, due to Universal’s complaint.

We’ve asked UMG why it apparently tolerates the web-based version but not the iPhone-based version, and hope to have an answer soon. It’s possible that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and UMG plans to sue Grooveshark over its web-based version in addition to convincing Apple to remove the app. But so far, it is only targeting the iPhone version of the app, and it has done so by contacting Apple directly rather than going through the legal system.

Apple confirmed to Wired.com that it pulled the Grooveshark app at the request of copyright holders.

“As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property,” said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller. “Due to objections by rightsholders, the Grooveshark app has been removed until resolution is reached by both parties.”

Grooveshark has had run-ins with the labels before, and settled an EMI lawsuit in October. However, as far as Universal Music Group’s UK office is concerned, it may not have permission to stream the label’s music through an iPhone app. Plenty of UMG artists including Lady Gaga and Drake are represented on the service.

Grooveshark senior vice president of public relations Jack DeYoung would not comment on the record, but the company explained its perspective on its blog (via hypebot) thusly:

   After over a year of diligently working, last week marked us leaping through all the hoops necessary to finally offer what is far-and-away our most-requested feature: a Grooveshark app for the iPhone. Obviously the last few days have been insanely exciting for us: seeing months of laboring over a hot MacBook finally bear fruit, not to mention the happiness we get being able to provide a great service to music fans all over the world.

   Earlier [Monday] afternoon, Apple sent us a letter notifying us that, due to a complaint they received from Universal Music Group UK, Grooveshark for iPhone has been, strangely, pulled from the App Store.

   This comes as an absolute surprise to us, and we are not sleeping until we figure out exactly how to fix this — and get Grooveshark for iPhone back in the App Store. Above all, our biggest concern is damaging the service we provide to all of you guys — our loyal (awesome) users.

   If you’ve already downloaded the app, keep enjoying it. We’re going to keep working hard to provide the best services we possibly can across the web, BlackBerry, Android, Palm WebOS, Nokia/Symbian, and everywhere else you love your music — including the iPhone.

This isn’t the first time copyright holder has prevailed upon Apple to pull an app. In June Apple briefly pulled the Pulse iPad reader store when the New York Times (bizarrely) complained that the way the app was rendering the public RSS the newspaper provides violated its noncommercial license for the feed. But Pulse was back in the iTunes store within hours, and without the acquiescence of the NYT.

Regardless of how Universal explains this situation, the Grooveskark app is no longer on iTunes, and so one thing is clear: In the app world, a mere complaint issued from one multinational corporation to another, rather than through the legal system, is enough to delete a mobile app that contains the same functionality that’s tolerated, for now anyway, on the open web.

Read More http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/08/apple-bows-to-label-pressure-yanks-grooveshark-from-app-store/#ixzz0x0wz0zej


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

WaTunes: NEED TO KNOW | Verizon, Google, and the future of the Internet | PBS WaTunes: Forrester’s Mark Mulligan Has 3 Things To Say To EMI (And All The Other Major Labels)

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