Spinrilla accused of sharing copyrighted works

Music apps on cellphones make getting ready in the morning fun, make subway rides feel shorter and allow travelers to listen to their favorite artists on the go. However, many require access to Wi-Fi, unless they have plentiful data. Luckily for some, Spinrilla lets users listen to music without Wi-Fi access so they can enjoy their tunes wherever they go. Recently, the Atlanta-based mixtape hub has come under fire for allegedly sharing unauthorized music with millions of users. Several record labels are now suing the app.

Spinrilla allows hip-hop enthusiasts to gain access to mixtapes released by their favorite artists. The most appealing part of the app, which is available for iOS and Android devices, features an offline mode that allows users to listen to mixtapes without internet access. Spinrilla Pro is available for an additional monthly subscription but most users opt for the free version because it still grants access to all available mixtapes.

On Feb. 3, the Recording Industry Association of America sued Spinrilla and its founder Jeffery Dylan Copeland in Georgia federal court on behalf of Atlantic Recording Corporation, LaFace Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Bros. Records.

The issue with Spinrilla is that users with an account can upload copyrighted content that other users can then download or stream for free for an unlimited number of times. The RIAA has identified more than 21,000 copyrighted sound recordings owned by plaintiffs that are available through the service. The labels are suing for direct and secondary copyright infringement and are seeking actual or statutory damages and an injunction. The lawsuit targets commercially released and unauthorized albums and songs available through the service.

This is not the first time the site has been under fire for containing copyrighted material. In 2015, a Universal employee claimed that the release of Drake and Future’s What a Time to Be Alive was downloaded illegally more than one million times through Spinrilla less than a week after its Apple Music exclusive release. According to the filed complaint, artists whose music is featured on Spinrilla are not being paid for the use of their music. For many music professionals, the debate of music streaming services centers on the economics of the music industry. Pop star Taylor Swift pulled her music off the streaming site Spotify to back up her concerns about streaming services devaluing the art of music.

Streaming is a complex issue—while some argue that it enables people to listen to their favorite music whenever and wherever, others argue that it devalues musical work. Free streaming, however, does not mean that artists do not get paid. It means their paycheck comes from advertising rather than more traditional sources.

As of now, Spinrilla is still operating. A take-down notice on the site states, “Spinrilla takes copyright infringement very seriously. In order to provide the best mixtapes and ensure top quality we do not allow infringed upon works to be posted on our website.”