Streaming is the new cool way to pirate stuff, and while most people would automatically think of video streaming there are audio pirates out there. Case in point, Sony and Warner have both decided to sue digital radio service TuneIn over 800 unlicensed streams that supposedly let people listen to copyrighted material in the UK.
According to a report from Music Business Worldwide (MBW) both record labels filed proceedings with the High Court last week, claiming that TuneIn was committing copyright infringement.
TuneIn, however, says that it's just an indexing service, and the actual content of the streams are down to the person or people hosting them. Whether that will fly in court is unclear, since EU courts have already determined that indexing sites are responsible for the content they recommend to users. Since this would be seen as copyright infringement in the EU (and thus the UK), TuneIn can't really turn round and go, "sorry, it's not our problem."
That said TuneIn's Terms of Service state that it only ensures its services are leal in the USA. If a user is not in the USA then its up to them to not break the law:
“Those who choose to access or use the Service from locations outside the United States of America do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with local laws, if and to the extent local laws are applicable.
Access to the Service from jurisdictions where the contents or practices of the Service are illegal, unauthorized or penalized is strictly prohibited.”
It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out in court. Will turning round and saying, "hey our terms of service are very clear, so it's nothing to do with us" work? I doubt it. The specific details of the lawsuit aren't known at the moment, but part of me wonders how these unlicensed streams could be illegal in the EU while still being perfectly legal in the USA. Without knowing what the content of the streams are, it's hard to say.