In a rare move, Google has pulled the popular music streaming app Grooveshark from the Android Market. It seems that the move was triggered by complaints from music labels. Grooveshark allows users all over the world to stream songs from its huge music library, listen to online radio stations, and even upload one’s personal music collection.
Like most startups dealing with the entertainment industry, Grooveshark has had its fair share of legal troubles. EMI was the first to sue Grooveshark, but in less than six months, it dropped the lawsuit and reached a revenue sharing deal. Soon after, Grooveshark was sued by Universal Music Group. That lawsuit is still pending.
“We remove apps from Android Market that violate our terms of service”, is all that Google seems to be willing to say for now. What makes this decision particularly interesting is its timing. Universal sued Grooveshark in January 2010, and Apple kicked it out of the iOS App Store in August. What made Google act now? What changed?
There are a couple of things going on that might or might not be related. For one, Google is scheduled to outline its anti-piracy efforts before the House of Representatives’ Judiciary committee today. IN the recent past, it has come under fire for not doing enough to prevent copyright infringements. Secondly, Google is currently developing its own music app that will compete with Grooveshark. Earlier today, we got a glimpse of the cloud-based music app for Android in the form of a leak.
Grooveshark is a freemium service, which manages to stay afloat by offering certain features only to subscribers. Perhaps the most significant of those features was the ability to stream music on mobile devices. However, it seems to be running out of mobile platforms. Android users can still download Grooveshark from many of the third-party app stores, and iOS users who have jailbroken their devices can get it from Cydia. However, the removal from the official app repositories of two of the biggest mobile platforms is undoubtedly a big blow.
Update: Grooveshark reacts to getting booted from the Android Market.