updated 07:05 pm EDT, Tue November 2, 2010
MP3tunes says case win may help Apple and Google
MP3tunes founder Michael Robertson in an interview on Tuesday suggested that a successful defense against an EMI lawsuit would be a help to the rumored iTunes media locker and a future Google music service. If a motion for a summary judgment (found below) dismissing EMI's remaining lawsuit arguments is successful, the case would legally enshrine the right of Apple, Google and MP3tunes itself to host a user's music collection online, Robertson said. A loss, he told CNET, would potentially give EMI and other labels permission to charge for music every time it's copied or transcoded, even if legally obtained and unprotected.
"If they [at EMI] win, your media will be locked up and you're going to be forced to re-buy it and re-buy it," he mentioned of the lawsuit, which targeted him and not his company. "Once your media is in the cloud, you take it with you forever. I'm of the mind it's your content. It should work everywhere."
EMI has insisted that MP3tunes was aiding and abetting piracy by giving users a place to put pirated music, in some cases obtained directly from the related site Sideload. Robertson's motion, however, argued that MP3tunes has not only taken "reasonable" steps to screen out pirated content but voluntarily took down pirated material when asked by EMI. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act reportedly protects MP3tunes since it grants safe harbor against being accused of piracy it couldn't detect.
The labels themselves made it difficult to verify what music was legal, since they often give away free, legal MP3 tracks, he added.
Both the rumored Apple and Google platforms would depend on having this kind of unfettered access. Either would at least let purchases stay in a private locker that users could then use to stream music to a computer, smartphone or tablet without having to download it locally. Some have suggested it could also host tracks regardless of whether or not they were bought directly.
Both companies may need separate deals, as labels have purportedly argued that a private copy on a server constitutes a second use and doesn't fit under existing deals.