Copyright Infringement

Spinrilla Mixtape Site Guilty of Copyright Infringement

Spinrilla, a popular platform for creating hip-hop mixtapes, accused of copyright infringement by the “Big Three” record companies, has shut down after it agreed to pay out USD $50 million to settle the case.

Judge Finds Spinrilla Liable for Copyright Infringement

The Atlanta, Georgia division of the U.S. District Court, Judge Amy Totenberg presiding, ordered the mixtape powerhouse and Jeffrey Copeland, its founder, to pay the labels $50 million, giving the website five days to shut down its online operations. The court’s ruling also prohibits any Spinrilla employees or associates from running a similar service.

Labels Involved in the Lawsuit

In a lawsuit filed in 2017, the labels alleged that a significant amount of music uploaded to Spinrilla were owned by the record companies. Plaintiffs included Electra Records and Atlantic Records (Warner Music Group), Arista Music, LaFace Records (Sony Music Entertainment), Sony Music US Latin, Zomba Records, Capitol Records, Bad Boy Records (Universal Music Group) and Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, now defunct.

Not Eligible for DMCA ‘Safe Harbor’ Protection

Spinrilla invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) “safe harbor” clause, stating that it was cooperating with the labels to “prevent and remove unauthorized music.” If true, this would have shielded the website from lawsuits alleging copyright violations by its users. However, the judge ruled in 2020 that they hadn’t met the necessary requirements. They were found not to have a policy against repeat infringement, nor a DMCA agent with whom complaints could be filed—or at least, not until after it had been hit with the 2017 lawsuit.

Unauthorized Tracks, Penalties and Settlement

The court found that 4,082 tracks were uploaded to the website and distributed without authorization. The DMCA states that each violation is subject to a penalty of $750 to $150,000. Therefore, this ruling could have incurred a penalty of $3 million up to as much as $612 million. Before the court could determine the award amount, Spinrilla submitted an offer, agreeing to pay $50 million and permanently close down the website.

Millions of Users and Downloads

Since Spinrilla first launched in 2013, it had amassed millions of users and its Android app was downloaded from the Google Play Store more than 10 million times. The company still has nearly 200,000 Twitter followers and a similar number of Facebook followers.

Music Business Worldwide – 9 May 2023 – Daniel Tencer

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