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Spinrilla tries to have copyright case dismissed over missing data

By | Published on Tuesday 17 October 2017

Spinrilla

Mixtape sharing app Spinrilla has requested that the copyright infringement lawsuit filed against it by the US record industry be dismissed. The request has been made on the basis that the major record companies failed to hand over crucial data relating to the allegedly infringing tracks at the heart of the case. The digital firm argues that, by not providing this data, the labels hindered its ability to mount a defence, leaving the company “severely prejudiced”.

As previously reported, the Recording Industry Association Of America sued Spinrilla – which allows people to upload and listen to unofficial mixtapes – over allegations of rampant copyright infringement back in February. Spinrilla quickly countered that it employs a rights management technology recommended to it by the record industry; that the labels now suing used to lobby to get their tracks featured on the platform; and that, anyway, the tech firm is protected by that often controversial safe harbour.

There has since been plenty of back and forth between the two sides in the case as both prepare for trial. In a new court filing last week – now published by Torrentfreak – Spinrilla hit out at the majors for not immediately handing over RIAA data that included specifics about the alleged infringements on its platform. Spinrilla says that initially the labels only stated which unlicensed recordings they had found on its platform by song title, but they didn’t provide specific URLs for where the alleged infringement was occurring. It subsequently transpired that the RIAA had that information.

Or, in the words of Spinrilla’s new court filing, initially the labels simply told it “a song on Spinrilla infringes Beyonce’s song ‘Single Ladies'” among others. But, Spinrilla says, it “had no way of knowing which of the more than one million [mixes] on its platform allegedly infringed” that one Beyonce track. It’s only more recently that the labels have provided an RIAA spreadsheet containing URLs “which tells us exactly which [mix] on Spinrilla’s platform allegedly infringes Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies'”.

The new court filing adds: “According to plaintiffs, the data in the RIAA spreadsheets evidences copyright infringement. Surely those Excel spreadsheets were ‘reasonably accessible’ to plaintiffs in April 2017” when ‘initial disclosures’ was filed. “Therefore, those spreadsheets should have been provided to defendants when plaintiffs’ served their initial disclosures on defendants on 14 Apr”.

Why does that matter? Well, according to Spinrilla: “The difference between these two scenarios … is drastic. Plaintiffs benefitted dearly by having defendants waste their time searching rather than analysing, since that leaves defendants less informed and less prepared. Had the full data been provided to Spinrilla from the start … defendants could have spent its time and resources on other issues”.

What kinds of other issues? “Why sounds recordings might not have been blocked by Spinrilla’s content identification vendor”, the court filing says, and “which of the allegedly infringed sounds recordings did plaintiffs want on Spinrilla”, and “which sound recordings did plaintiffs’ artists place on Spinrilla and similar issues. Defendants would also have had the time and resources to listen to and analyse the actual allegedly infringing audio files at those URLs … time it no longer has”.

So make of all that what you will. Though even if you think the record labels were complacent, or naughty, in not providing the offending URLs to Spinrilla’s legal team earlier, you might think that would be a reason to give the digital firm more time to prepare for court, rather than dismissing the case outright. Think not!

“It is difficult for defendants to envision this case ever becoming a ‘fair fight'”, Spinrilla now argues. “Because the RIAA data and spreadsheets were hidden, defendants are simply too far behind where they should be for this to be a level playing field”. Also, “hiding and lying to the court about the RIAA data and spreadsheets is the worst of plaintiffs’ conduct, but there is plenty more”.

Concluding, Spinrilla’s court submission states: “It is without exaggeration to say that by hiding the RIAA spreadsheets and that underlying data, defendants have been severely prejudiced. The complaint should be dismissed with prejudice and, if it is, plaintiffs can only blame themselves”.

All in all, it seems a somewhat ambitious bid to have the record industry’s copyright case thrown out of court. But we’ll nevertheless await with interest to see how the judge overseeing the case responds.



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