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Spinrilla promotes itself on Twitter as “the 800-pound gorilla of free hip-hop mixtapes.” But the Atlanta-based company may have met its match.
Five of the nation’s largest recording companies with extensive hip-hop catalogues are suing Spinrilla and founder Jeffery Dylan Copeland in federal court in Atlanta, claiming that Spinrilla’s website and free mobile apps have siphoned off hundreds of thousands of potential paying customers by making copyrighted music available for free.
The suit claims that more than 21,000 individual recordings of copyrighted material—in addition to copyrighted album cover art—have been downloaded, including musical works by stars such as Beyonce, Kanye West, Michael Jackson and OutKast and top tracks from Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop Songs chart.
The numbers are occasionally eye-popping. According to the suit, Spinrilla racks up two million visits a month. Hip-hop artist Kevin Gates’ “By Any Means” mixtape was streamed more than a million times and downloaded more than 800,000 times. Young Thug’s “Slime Season 3″ was streamed more than 4.5 million times—all for free.
Apparently fed up, Atlantic, LaFace Records, Warner Brothers, Sony Music Entertainment and UMG Records sued for copyright infringement, asking for $150,000 for each work infringed, legal fees and costs—an estimated $3.2 billion. In suing, the recording companies appear to be following in the footsteps of similar copyright infringement litigation filed against Napster, the original music-sharing service that was shut down by court order in 2001.
Copeland, Spinrilla’s founder and owner, could not be reached for comment at Spinrilla and has not yet responded to a message left for him.
The record companies are represented in Atlanta by Troutman Sanders partner James Lamberth. The Daily Report was unable to reach Lamberth by telephone or email.
The suit claims that copyrighted music is flowing through Spinrilla’s free mobile app where users are allowed 75 free music streams and 75 downloads for free a day. That, according to the suit, has elevated Spinrilla to within the top one percent of the most popular iOS apps worldwide. Spinrilla’s Android app has been downloaded and installed between 5 million and 10 million times, is among the most popular music apps available on the Google Play store and ranks higher than apps by Apple Music, Amazon Music and SiriusXM Radio, the suit contends.
Spinrilla makes its money from app advertisers, among them Amazon, REI, Uber, Hulu, Samsung, Flonase and Zyrtec, the suit says. The sheer number of hip-hop artists whose works are available free of charge has garnered it online reviews that have only served to boost its popularity, according to the suit.
One review labeled Spinrilla “a contender” with Apple Music, Spotify and other paid subscription music apps. One reviewer summed it up: “It has all the hot music for free.”