Apple has bowed to pressure from music industry lawyers and has removed music-streaming App Grooveshark from the iTunes Store.
The free App - which allowed users desktop users free access to millions of tunes for nowt if they could put up with the adverts, or ad free and on a number of portable devices for a fee of $3 per month - has disappeared from iTunes just five days after it was launched.
Grooveshark has been around on the web for a while now and has managed to fly below the record company radar for the best part, but the kind of mass exposure that comes with a iPhone App capabe of streaming free(ish) music has garnered some unwelcome attention from Big Music.
"Earlier this afternoon," writes an anonymous spokesshark in a blog post, "Apple sent us a letter notifying us that, due to a complaint they received from Universal Music Group UK, Grooveshark for iPhone has been, strangely, pulled from the App Store."
Grooveshark's DMCA policy insists that the outfit has has an artist/label policy which ensures that copyright owners are "compensated fairly" every time a tune is streamed on the service, but whether Grooveshark's idea of fair compensation it's comfortably with Universal's own is debatable.
Reading between the lines, Grooveshark's T&Cs also seem to put the onus on copyright owners to claim payment rather than automatically compensating artists and publishers. A model which is bound to get the record industry's hackles up.
The strangest twist in the tale, however, is that Grooveshark is still available for Android, Blackberry, Palm OS and Symbian. Which begs the question, why did Apple acquiesce to a request from a single record company without recourse to the legal system? Especially as Grooveshark continues to operate unabated on the web.
Apple took several months to approve Grooveshark for inclusion on the iTunes App store and the Cupertino company's lawyers aren't exactly unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the music industry. The company is, after all, the biggest retailer of music on the planet.
We're sure that all will become clear as this story unfolds but, for now, there's a distinctly fishy whiff hanging over the whole affair.