In February of 2012, MuSeek went public on Google Play. Midway through April it was pulled by Google for “Alleged copyright infringement (according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act)”.
The developer responded with a detailed explanation of what MuSeek was and requested an explanation from Google for why it was removed. What did Google respond with? NOTHING!
What was MuSeek, and why was Google so quick and silent in its removal from the app store?
MuSeek was a utility to scrape MP3 links from advanced Google search results. Have you ever tried finding MP3 files on Google? If you have, you probably discovered that it wasn’t easy to find exactly what you were looking for, and any websites that WERE returned in search results were not necessarily the safest in regards to privacy or spam.
If MuSeek was indeed simpler and safer, why did Google remove it from the app store? There are a couple of theories, but the actual reason may never be known, because even after inquiring by email and then filing for a legal request, the developer has yet to receive a response from Big “G”.
The developer feels that Google’s complaint that the app violated terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is not a solid claim. We all know that hosting copyrighted MP3 music files and making those available for download by the general public for free is not legal, but that is not what MuSeek did. “In fact, if anyone is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is Google!”, says the app developer. Why? Because all of the resulting MP3 files were actually provided by Google via search results! Yes, GOOGLE provided the results! So, who is going to pull the plug on Google?
There are specially-crafted, advanced search queries you can utilize to find things that you could never imagine with Google. Google indexes a LOT more than just web pages. Just about any file type that has used those types of queries to deep-search Google and find more than what you could find with just a basic search. You could preview the MP3 files and then download them to your device’s storage if you desired.
Without using MuSeek, you could still find all of the same MP3 files in your web browser with Google, just not as easily. You could also find FREE/Public Domain, and perfectly legal MP3 files with MuSeek. The app developer compares someone using MuSeek to someone driving a car or owning a handgun.
They are legal to own and use, but it’s HOW you use them that could determine whether or not you go to jail. MuSeek was merely a vehicle and you could “drive” it safely, or dangerously, it was up to you.
There have been other MP3 downloading apps that were NOT removed, even after a request by the RIAA! (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2396293,00.asp) So why WAS MuSeek removed? Was Google trying to “eliminate the competition” to its own “Google Music” app?
MuSeek was a “vehicle” that allowed users to find both Legal and Illegal music files. The end-user had full control over what they found and actually downloaded. There was even a disclaimer/notice when starting up MuSeek that said: “Please seek and download responsibly as we do not support downloading of copyrighted material. If you download commercially available material, please be sure to purchase it after previewing it so that the artists can get something in return for their hard work.”
Below is the Google removal notice as well as the response from the developer. For the record, the developer also filed a “Counter Notification” per Google’s rules and never received a response to that either. So, was it really MuSeek that infringed on copyrights of music owners or is it the actual people who hosted the actual MP3 files? If you say “MuSeek” then you may as well say “Google” in the same breath…
REMOVAL NOTICE FROM GOOGLE
“This is a notification that your application, MuSeek – MP3 Search & Download, has been removed from the Google Play Store.
REASON FOR REMOVAL: Alleged copyright infringement (according to the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act)
All violations are tracked. Serious or repeated violations of any nature will result in the termination of your developer account, and investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts. Please review the Developer Distribution Agreement and Content Policy to ensure that your applications are
compliant with our policies.
The DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. Click here for more information about the DMCA, and see http://www.google.com/dmca.html for the process that Google requires in order to make a DMCA complaint.
Google may reinstate your application into the Google Play Store upon receipt of a counter notification pursuant to sections 512(g)(2) and (3) of the DMCA. Click here for more information about the requirements of a counter notification and a link to a sample counter notification. If you have legal
questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.
Please note that we have included a text copy of the Infringement Notice we received for your reference.”- The Google Play Team
“I was notified that my MuSeek app was removed from the Market because of copyright infringement. (RIAA/DMCA related)
I feel its removal was unjustified and discriminatory…
1) MuSeek is merely a web browser, which actually gets its content from Google. A sample query can be found here: Museek Sample Query
2) All it does is perform a Google search and format it in such a way to make it easier to view on a mobile phone. It pulls the links from the HTML and displays those in a scrollable list.
3) I DO NOT host any of the material that can be found and I DO NOT maintain any database or index of links to the files. Everything that is presented to the end-user in MuSeek is actually provided via Google courtesy of a live search. This is the SAME material that people can find using the SAME query from
Google in a standard web browser.
4) If anything, I am being discriminated against since there are other apps on the Market that perform the same function as MuSeek, so why are they still up while mine has been taken down? Is Google making more money from those apps (via Adsense/Admob)? In fact, the paid version of my app is still
up, so if you think it is justifiable to pull my app from the market, why hasn’t that one been pulled as well? (I am not asking to have my paid app removed, I am just inquiring about why it wasn’t.)
So in summary, I DO NOT host any MP3 files, nor do I maintain any databases or indexes linking to MP3 files. I am merely doing exactly what any person can do in their web browser using Google as their search tool. If anyone is violating the DMCA, it would be the hosts of the MP3 files and Google for
indexing them. Not me for simply providing a modified web browser. In fact, if it were justifiable to pull my app, why don’t you go ahead and pull all the Web Browsers in the market too, since it is possible for people to find MP3 material using them and a Google search as well?
For example; would it be justifiable for someone to sue Ford Motor Company if someone happened to be driving one of their vehicles while they drove through a red light or got pulled over for a seatbelt violation? No, it would not. My app is simply a web browser, a vehicle, just as Google is also a vehicle for
people to find material online with. What they do with the material they find is their responsibility, not mine. With MuSeek, you can find legal content as well as illegal content, it is up to the end-user to do what is right. It is like walking through a music store and browsing through their CDs…it is up to the end-
user to purchase the music and not steal it.