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Grooveshark CEO talks EMI, YouTube, piracy

In an interview with Evolver, Sam Tarantino doesn't address the numerous copyright lawsuits confronting his company but he does have lots of gripes with the record industry.

Grooveshark CEO Sam Tarantino compares his company to YouTube, reflects on screaming matches with EMI, and reveals that the company now forces ads on users, in an interview with the music blog published today.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

Grooveshark is a company that is likely as well known for its legal woes as anything it has done with digital music. All four of the top record companies have filed copyright complaints against the company. In addition, EMI, which once had a licensing agreement with the service, has accused Grooveshark of failing to pay its bills.

Tarantino spoke with former CNET writer Eliot Van Buskirk, who now operates Evolver.

"Look at YouTube and search 'Beatles,' and every Beatles master is up there," Tarantino told Evolver. "I know from a fact -- from having screaming matches with the EMI guys -- that Beatles isn't supposed to be anywhere except for iTunes. So, it's easy to demonize us, but here's YouTube doing the same things -- but they're Google, so how can they be illegal?"

Later Tarantino suggest that YouTube and Google get special treatment from the major record companies.

"It's not piracy, per se, that's killing them," he said. "It's the fact that they haven't been able to build artists effectively and then monetize them around the ancillary revenues. Look what they're doing with Vevo. Free music already exists: It's YouTube, it's Vevo. Legally, I can get any song I want off of YouTube right now, so it's just funny to see their perspective on it. 'Why are you supporting Vevo when you're so aggressively attacking us?' Somehow it just doesn't make sense.

Van Buskirk correctly notes that the reason the labels are "supporting Vevo" and not Grooveshark is that Vevo is licensed. Vevo pays and Grooveshark doesn't. That can't be news to him, can it?

Tarantino also talks about new music video ads the company requires users to watch, which he says has received an "overwhelmingly positive" response. Sure, isn't it always when it comes to ads?