EMI Suffers A Setback In Case Against MP3Tunes

mp3tunes-logo.pngThe record labels love to sue Michael Robertson, the founder of MP3.com (sold to Vivendi in 2001 for $372 million) who now incubates a number of Web startups. One of them is MP3Tunes, which is billed as a music storage locker. But the record labels still don’t like it. EMI is suing MP3Tunes for copyright infringement and demanded that the service turn over the more than 100 million music files stored in all 125,000 MP3Tunes accounts. (The argument is that even if there is no sharing between lockers, users are transferring music to MP3Tunes, which is the same as distributing the music—a right only EMI has). A court in New York has denied that request, Robertson writes on his blog. Excerpt:

All access to a music Locker requires a unique username and password, and there is absolutely no sharing between Lockers. . . . MP3tunes strongly objected to EMI’s request, because it was both an invasion of user’s personal storage, and because it would create a huge technical and financial burden, with more than 300 terabytes of files in personal Lockers. Files are not MP3tunes’ possessions any more than the contents of a safety deposit box are owned by the bank that houses them.

No corporation should have the right to demand the content of tens of thousands of personal accounts be turned over to them. There’s no reason to suggest that the users are doing anything but listening to their own music collections in a modern manner. There are millions of Gmail accounts that have MP3 files stored in them � same with Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft’s email and hosting services. If EMI can gain unfettered access to wantonly look through personal accounts on MP3tunes those services will be next.

EMI is trying to eliminate online storage and take people back to a prehistoric time before Internet services existed.

It is a small victory that could be overturned by a higher court. But this court made the right decision. EMI shouldn’t be allowed to go on a fishing expedition. It needs to be a little more specific in its requests for data. After all, those 100 million songs are not just EMI songs. And this whole theory that transferring music from your computer to a personal online storage service is the same as redistributing that music completely ignores modern reality. But that is not surprising. The record companies are living in their own reality distortion field. After all, these are the same people who want to tax all Internet users for copyright infringement, even if you’ve never done any file-sharing in your life.