CloudFlare Responds to Grooveshark Copycat Court Order: We’re Not the Copyright Police

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CloudFlare complied with a court order forcing it to stop providing services to a Grooveshark copycat recently, despite concerns by the San Francisco-based security and website optimization provider that the demand put it in an unfair position.

“Trademark infringement is a serious matter,” Kenneth Carter, general counsel for CloudFlare told the WHIR in an email. “However, that litigation is between the plaintiffs and the alleged infringers. We find it disquieting that the plaintiffs would try to rope CloudFlare into being their copyright and trademark police.”

According to a report by TorrentFreak, a few weeks ago the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) obtained a seizure order preventing domain registrars and hosting companies from continuing to offer services to the copycat site.

Grooveshark was shut down on April 30 as part of a settlement agreement with the major record companies, effectively putting to bed a years-long legal battle between record labels and the free music streaming service. But soon after the service was shuttered, a Grooveshark copycat appeared.

Namecheap complied with the temporary seizure order immediately, rendering the new Grooveshark’s domains inaccessible, but as in many cases with domain seizures, the site reappeared on a different domain. CloudFlare doesn’t provide web hosting, and it has said in the past that even if it stopped providing its services to a customer, their site would still be online, just not as secure or load quite as fast.

Carter said: “The plaintiffs presented CloudFlare with a temporary restraining order in a case in which we were not a party. CloudFlare is not a web host. If CloudFlare terminates a customer, that does not actually remove the customer’s content from the Internet. Because of this, and because CloudFlare was not named in the order or providing the prohibited services, it seemed to be a bit of a stretch that such an order would be applied to CloudFlare.”

Judge Alison Nathan said that this argument is irrelevant because third-parties can still be bound by restraining orders even if terminating its services doesn’t render the site inaccessible, TorrentFreak said.

TorrentFreak has posted the full judgement (PDF) by the court.

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