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Friday, Jan 13, 2012 9:00pm
Grooveshark launches pure HTML5 web app, faces threats
Rogue music service Grooveshark is attempting to do an end-run around apps that have been pulled from both the iOS App Store and the Android Market by posting a "web app" version of the player in pure HTML5, which should work with most smartphones and tablets as well as most web browsers. In a blog post, the company says it is trying to "reach as many mobile music listeners as we can" but already faces lawsuits from all of the major labels, who accuse the company of illegally misusing rights to the music.

Sony, Universal and Warner had been suing the company alleging that Grooveshark was improperly sharing songs it didn't have rights to. EMI, which signed an agreement with Grooveshark after initially suing over copyright infringement, has now re-sued the company saying it has failed to pay any royalties at all over the past three years.

Court documents have already shown that Grooveshark started the service with no intention to pay royalties to the record companies. Its original plan was to use the time it would take for the record companies to take Grooveshark to court to try and build a large audience for its free and subscription music streaming services. It would then effectively "sell out" the listeners by allowing record companies to mine the user data for a fee, with which it would finally pay royalties and profit on the difference.

The Grooveshark apps were pulled from the App Store and Android Market after Universal's initial complaint of copyright infringement, and the site responded by making the Android version an unofficial app. The new webapp does an end run around native apps entirely, but opens up a fresh front that the record companies can sue over. The service currently makes money solely from ad revenues and subscription fees. It says it will fight the various lawsuits.

In its post, Grooveshark promises a mystery "bonus surprise" for testers who try out and report back on the service on mobile devices other than those running iOS, Android 2.3 or higher, or on a Blackberry Playbook or HP TouchPad. At present the service appears to work as designed on most mobile smartphones and tablets, but doesn't scroll properly on a desktop or notebook web browser -- music plays, but users are unable to scroll lists. Due to its dependence on HTML5 Audio, the service will not work on browsers that don't support the standard.