After record labels took music streaming service Grooveshark offline earlier this year, they’re seeking to force internet providers to block users from using trademarks in their domain names.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that after the main Grooveshark site was taken down a number of copycats sprung up with the same name. A secret court order sent to CloudFlare in May demanded that it stop facilitating the site and take it down, along with any other derivatives of the brand.
CloudFlare provides services to help keep websites online under heavy load and ensure they’re faster and secure.
The record labels were able to send such an order because they received the trademark for “Grooveshark” as part of the takedown.
According to the EFF, the takedown order could be read widely to include anyone involved in keeping a site online, including internet infrastructure companies and even reaching down to the utility providers.
In late May, CloudFlare appealed the ruling saying that “active concert requires action, and CloudFlare has taken none.”
It also contested being put in a position where it would need to monitor and block user usage of a word, continuing on to say “even if CloudFlare—and every company in the world that provides similar services—took proactive steps to identify and block the Defendants, the website would remain up and running at its current domain name.”
Ultimately Cloudflare lost the appeal and the court is forcing the company to block all users having a domain with the word “grooveshark” in it, regardless of who the owner of the site is.
It sets a precedent that could mean internet companies are required to become gatekeepers for corporations and maintain lists of terms that users aren’t allowed to use, putting the onus on companies like CloudFlare rather than the trademark holders themselves, to track infringement.
CloudFlare isn’t taking the order as final, however, and is now working with the EFF to ask the court to change the order and only require it to take down accounts using “grooveshark” if the music labels notify it that the site is infringing.
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