“I get to keep my minivan,” says MP3tunes owner Michael Robertson, who is claiming a victory in the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by record label/music publisher EMI Group Ltd. against him and his company in 2007. The record company accused Robertson and his sideload.com of illegally providing free online access to thousands of songs.
Launched in San Diego in early ’06, MP3tunes’ sideload.com allows users to store MP3 files in applications that make them playable with PCs, consoles, DVRs, internet radios, and cell phones.
Says Robertson, “MP3tunes is making it possible for more than 150,000 people to listen to their music everywhere, including some EMI personnel who have personally complimented me on our system.
“In their attempt to stop MP3tunes, EMI is using their massive legal department and deep pockets. They are telling the courts we are pirates.... It is unfortunate that we are being dragged into court and have to expend time and money on this issue, but someone has to go first. Someone has to blaze a trail defining consumers’ rights with their personal music.”
On Monday, August 22, NYC district judge William H. Pauley, III, ruled that MP3tunes qualifies for a “safe harbor exemption” (referencing provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) from being sued for infringement, since Robertson’s company actively banned site users from posting links to other websites known to contain or distribute access to illegally pirated music.
Judge Pauley, however, sided with EMI on an issue that leaves the door open for future litigation, ruling that MP3tunes should have done more to enforce music copyrights, such as deleting any suspected pirated songs from its users’ accounts. How MP3tunes is supposed to determine which songs may be pirated was not addressed.