Last week, after a protracted court battle with music rights holders, the illegal online streaming service Grooveshark went dark. But an ambitious, and mysterious person named “New Grooveshark” emailed me today with news that they’d defiantly brought back the site at a new address at grooveshark.io. The shark just won’t die.
For those that don’t know, Grooveshark was an early web-based streaming music service that allowed you to search for music on the internet as easily as you search your iTunes library and the iTunes music store. Plug in a search term, press play, and then you’re jamming. Easy, and at the time it was launched in 2007, it was totally unique. You didn’t have a million streaming music services with free service tiers, the way you do today.
In a note posted April 30th on the Grooveshark website, the proprietors said that as part of the settlement agreement with the copyright holders, who’d been trying to shut the website down since its launch in 2007, Grooveshark was forced to hand over its domain and all of its property.
Grooveshark always contended that it was a service that allowed people to preview music before they purchased it. Unsurprisingly, the rights holders—music labels, publishing companies, and artists—didn’t buy the argument. The court drama was finally settled earlier this year.
Grooveshark, like Napster, The Pirate Bay, and other embattled piracy portals, remains an important icon for people who contend that anti-piracy advocates go too far in trying to protect their property. So maybe that’s why just days after Grooveshark officially died, it walks again.
In an email titled “Grooveshark, revived” the sender New Grooveshark told me they’d rebuilt the service at a fresh web address, grooveshark.io. I clicked the link, punched “Beyonce” into the search box and sure enough I was listening to music almost immediately. The site is filled with legalese, and amongst the claims the new operators make is that Grooveshark doesn’t actually host any of the material on the page. Like the old Grooveshark, the claim is that this is merely a search engine, and that the users are responsible for how they use it.
Grooveshark.io was up for a solid couple of hours until the site was taken down by its hosting company. “Moving to another server within 1 hour,” New Grooveshark told me. Sure enough, the page was back in an hour.
What’s crazy is that it seems that the redevelopers have a backup of most of what was on Grooveshark, or so they claim:
How can I do this? Well, I startedbacking up all the content on the website when I started suspectingthat Grooveshark’s demise is close and my suspicion was confirmed afew days later when they closed. By the time they closed I have already backed up 90% of the content on the site and I’m now working on getting the remaining 10%.
The domain grooveshark.io was registered to a name and address in Ukraine. We don’t know if that’s a real address, since whoever is behind the new Grooveshark is using a domain services company called Cloudflare to conceal the actual location of its servers.
Here’s the Whois listing available at the time of publication:
It’s impressive that New Grooveshark managed to get the site back up so quickly. They declined to elaborate just how they’re doing it. As we’ve learned from services like The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, and PopcornTime, it’s possible to evade from international authorities and keep an illegal page running for a long time—if not forever.
Beyond he allure of defiance, it’s hard to understand why anyone would bother sneaking around to put up a service that in many ways has outlived its utility. As the original Grooveshark pointed out in their farewell note, there are plenty of legal, licensed options for people who want to listen to music in a web browser today. For downloading illegally, BitTorrent is way easier and faster than Grooveshark ever was.
The new dev says they used to work with Grooveshark, and initially, they told me their reasoning for trying to bring back the service was “Because YES, we can. And we want to. Simple as that.”
I pressed them on the matter a little bit, and got only more ambiguity.
When I saw Grooveshark is faces $736mm sue I said to myself “Mother fuckers....” and something just urged me to start back up the site.
Now we are bringing it back live and there is nothing smart really that I can say about my motivations, it just feels like the right thing to do.
Obviously the rightsholders who spent years trying to take Grooveshark down are going to do everything in their power to keep the site off the internet again. When the revived site reappeared this afternoon after its brief outage, New Grooveshark wrote me a message to let me know it was back. “It is going to be a roller coaster,” they said. “But we are here to stay.”