Feeds

Mp3Tunes files for bankruptcy

Also-ran run-in

Top three mobile application threats

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

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.