Guest Column: Grooveshark joins opposition of anti-piracy legislation

Clare Lennon

Suppose a student were to post a clip from a popular TV show on YouTube.

Say the student filmed the show with a video camera while watching it, which is illegal.

If a proposed law is passed in its current state, that decision could be considered a felony and shut down all of YouTube.

Grooveshark and other Internet companies are uniting to make sure the proposed law, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is changed or halted.

The act, better known as SOPA, is a national bill that could change the regulations for piracy on the Web. The bill is being reviewed in the House of Representatives.

Grooveshark, a Gainesville, Fla.-based music streaming website, has been protesting SOPA alongside Internet companies like Google, Wikipedia and Facebook, according to a list on

Grooveshark has a “small presence” in Washington, D.C., said Paul Geller, senior vice president of External Affairs at Grooveshark. This allows staff to stay informed of legislation like SOPA and the U.S. Senate’s version, the Protect IP Act, better known as PIPA.

He said SOPA is being pushed “at a pace that is just unjustifiable” and could have detrimental effects on Internet users.

Geller said the bill infringes on freedom of speech.

Because of that, the bill could be blocked by Internet companies citing the First Amendment and other laws, said Gerald Haskins, University of Florida senior lecturer and Internet law expert.

“This is a really poorly written bill, and it could be used to prosecute uploaders, downloaders and anyone like that,” he said.

Geller and Haskins each pointed out that the bill also carries potential security issues. Computer users who don’t want to be limited by SOPA could change their Domain Name Server settings to be outside of American jurisdiction. This means their computers could be susceptible to scam websites that are blocked by the U.S. server.

“It could bring the Internet to a halt,” Haskins said.

Geller said Grooveshark is supporting Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s alternative bill, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act. The bill is available at, and visitors can suggest changes or alternatives.

In a statement to The Independent Florida Alligator, local Rep. Cliff Stearns said he will not take a position on SOPA until he sees the final proposal from the House Judiciary Committee.

In the meantime, Geller said the company is trying to educate lawmakers on the bill.

Keivan Zolfaghari, 20-year-old psychology and food resource economics junior at U. Florida, said he learned about SOPA from Tumblr and is planning to write to his congressman about the legislation.

“I think it hurts where we are today,” he said.

Originally published Jan. 9 in the Independent Florida Alligator, U. Florida via UWIRE