Feeds

Mp3Tunes files for bankruptcy

Also-ran run-in

Boost IT visibility and business value

For Michael Robertson, it’s déjà vu all over again. The same flexible and somewhat optimistic interpretation of copyright law that sank his music service in the dot.com bubble has also sunk his current music service, over what was essentially the same idea. On Friday Robertson’s cloud music locker – MP3Tunes – filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming music industry litigation.

Robertson first implemented the idea of a music locker 12 years ago, with MyMP3.com, one of the first generation of such services, and not the only one. But Robertson walked away happier than most bubble entrepreneurs, and was $100m richer after Vivendi acquired MP3.com at the height of the dot.com insanity, swallowing $250m of damages for copyright infringement, and legal fees.

In 2005 he revived the idea with Oboe, a locker service which was later renamed MP3Tunes.

"At MP3.com we failed in the courts because we were using music that we'd previously digitised ourselves, and the RIAA said that you copied our music, so you violated our licence," Robertson told us at the time. "This time consumers are uploading their own music to our store. With Oboe it's like a photo service, and customers are responsible for uploading their content."

But a copy is a copy, and without a licence to make a copy (outside of a few special cases), courts don't have much choice other than to treat it as infringement.

MP3Tunes was sued by EMI in 2007, having opened a pre-emptive strike against EMI a few months earlier. Despite a favourable court decision last August, which declared that ‘safe harbor’ provisions applied to the locker service, Robertson’s company was still on the hook for huge liabilities. Robertson pointed out that since then major online retailers have launched services.

MICHAEL_ROBERTSON

“No retailer would work with us for fear or retaliation from EMI or because it was prohibited outright. Yet today this is exactly how Amazon, Apple and Google's music stores operate,” he complained.

But in neither instance – in 1999 or 2005 – did Robertson obtain licences from music companies – as Google, Amazon and Apple have successfully done – and the firm hoped the courts would make it unnecessary.

Even as billion-dollar companies, the three giants still found negotiating a licence for copies a lengthy process, but co-operation provided certainty from lawsuits. Negotiating a licence did allow Apple to innovate a little on the idea – and save users the time-consuming business of uploading all their songs to the locker first.

Whether there’s much interest, or money, in the feature is another question

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.