The ruling is out in the EMI v MP3tunes case, and while there were victories for both sides, it’s MP3tunes founder Michael Robertson who seems happier with the verdict. EMI won a summary judgement over its claim that MP3tunes should have removed unauthorised music from its users’ lockers after being notified by the label, and Robertson was found personally liable for sideloading copyrighted EMI tracks to his own locker from unlicensed sites.
With around 350 songs at issue, the company could be faced with damages at up to $30,000 per work ($10.5 million in total, or thereabouts). However, MP3tunes prevailed in some very important aspects of the case, including its claim that the service was covered by DMCA Safe Harbor provisions through responding quickly to DMCA takedown notices, and removing accounts from persistent infringers.
Robertson has argued that MP3tunes should be given the same treatment as Veoh and YouTube, who both prevailed in similar cases (even if they have since gone to appeal). Both sides have published statements claiming pleasure at the parts they won, and plans to appeal at the parts they lost. “EMI believes that companies like MP3tunes, which knowingly build a business based on stolen music, should not be entitled to any DMCA safe harbor defense, and we’re evaluating our options to seek review of those portions of the decision,” notes EMI’s statement.
Here’s Robertson: “EMI initially alleged that MP3tunes infringed 33,000 of their works and this ruling cuts that list down 99% to about 350 works and even then only in two narrow aspects. Even in those areas we would suggest that the facts are inconsistent with the court’s ruling and are exploring appeal options.” So, appeals to come. Robertson claims that the current ruling is a win for companies including Amazon, Google, Grooveshark and Dropbox, citing the judge’s ruling that playing songs back from a locker is not a public performance requiring a licence. Billboard isn’t so sure, suggesting instead that the ruling is more about not forcing these services to monitor their lockers for pirated tracks.
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