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Music site ends German business on a sour note

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Photo: DPA
11:59 CET+01:00
A free online music streaming service, Grooveshark, has closed its German operations, saying the music industry is charging too much for access to songs.

In a statement on its website, the company blamed GEMA – the organization that represents musicians and music publishers in Germany – for the move.

Around 30 million people use the services across the world, streaming music over the internet without paying. Those in Germany, about 6 million, are now blocked.

“Due to unreasonably high operating costs, Grooveshark is discontinuing access from Germany,” the firm wrote, urging users to contact GEMA directly to complain.

GEMA announced increased licensing prices for services such as Grooveshark last month – after agreeing to a licensing framework with Bitkom, which represents high-tech companies, including various music streaming services.

Many videos featuring music posted onto video sharing website Youtube are blocked in Germany because GEMA views them as violating copyright laws.

As is already common for Youtube, some German internet users are likely to turn to IP masking services to use Grooveshark.

Another option in Germany to stream music free, Simfy, allows users to stream music for a few hours per month before imposing a subscription fee.

In a statement responding to “accusations from Grooveshark,” GEMA said it had not been in discussions with the service and accused it of refusing to pay any licensing fees at all.

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Grooveshark, which was launched in the United States 2007, has been locked in multiple copyright disputes with music publishers worldwide – it has been accused of not paying licensing fees and featuring music it doesn’t have the rights to. Apple has banished its iPhone app from its store and it is currently embroiled in lawsuits with many major music publishers.

The Local/mdm

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