EMI Sues Michael Robertson For Copyright Infringement
It Was Only A Matter Of Time…
EMI, the beleaguered major, has filed a copyright infringement against Michael Robertson, CEO of MP3tunes.com, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. This is not a surprise to most industry watchers, including FutureMusic who predicted a bevy of lawsuits against Robertson and Sideload.com in a March 21, 2006 article.
Several EMI-owned labels and publishers have sued Robertson, Sideload.com and MP3tunes.com, for willful infringement of copyright over the Internet. According to reports, Robertson claims that the case appeared to be retaliatory, since MP3tunes recently sued EMI in San Diego a month ago after the record company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sideload, a “search engine” for digital music files.
Robertson is no stranger to the inside of a court room. In 2000, he lost several copyright infringement cases brought on by the major recording companies, and a few indies, including some of the plaintiffs in this case, against MP3.com. His former company paid recording firms more than $100 million to settle the numerous claims. MP3.com was later bought by Vivendi’s Universal Music Group for $385 million. Universal at the time was the only record company of the five major labels that had sued it to refuse to settle its copyright infringement suit with MP3.com.
As for MP3tunes, EMI’s complaint says that MP3tunes’ permits users to listen to music on their computers, obtain copies of songs online, transfer music to their computers and portable devices, and distribute it to others. EMI claims that Robertson’s sole purpose behind MP3tunes and Sideload was to create “a vehicle to achieve a comparable infringing purpose. MP3tunes does not own the music it exploits; nor does MP3tunes have any legal right or authority to use or exploit that music.”
The Future: Robertson is again pushing the legal envelope. Whether he licks more stamps is a question of if the courts accept his argument of fair use. Years after the MP3.com debacle, he’s certainly in a better social and legal position to debate his point, but he’s most likely to receive another legal smackdown.