On Monday, the case of EMI vs. MP3Tunes was decided in federal court. The judge found the website guilty of copyright infringement, but may have dealt the recording industry a major setback in the process.

Fourteen record companies and music publishers sued Mp3Tunes.com and owner Michael Robertson, who had been through virtually the same legal process a decade earlier with his popular MP3.com website. In both cases, Robertson lost -- but this time around, he's calling it a 99% victory.

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, Robertson writes on his blog. Even in those areas we would suggest that the facts are inconsistent with the court's ruling and are exploring appeal options.

The two narrow aspects refer to the court's ruling that MP3Tunes and Robertson himself were guilty of copyright infringement, but only in the case of a few songs that remained in music lockers despite being specified (among many others specified and properly removed) in an official takedown notice that conformed to the safe harbor exception spelled out in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The larger question revolves around so-called music lockers, which are essentially simple web-based storage. The benefits are those touted in any instance of the cloud model -- users have access to their files from any device, as long as they have access to the Internet. This applies to the dedicated music locker service of MP3Tunes.com, but it also applies to such current and future endeavors such as Apple's iCloud, Google's Google Music, and Amazon's Cloud Drive, among others.

However, MP3Tunes differs from simple storage by comparing user files to master files in its database -- the theory being that the service can save time, storage space, and bandwidth by negating (or deduplicating) multiple copies of identical files. Apple's iCloud Music Match is the only other major service to offer a similar feature -- but the company reportedly paid $150 million for the privilege.

Several other means of infringement were named by EMI, and the judge ruled against all of them, including offering a music search engine and linking to songs, and so-called sideloading (transferring songs found on other places on the 'net to music lockers). EMI also failed in their attempt to label the streaming of recorded music as a public performance and therefore have it require a separate license, and did not convince the judge that music recorded before 1972 fell outside DMCA jurisdiction.


James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for IBG.com. With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at www.ibg.com. Morgan Drexen Inc provides legal support services to attorneys representing consumers who are facing bankruptcy. This support service provides high success rates as an alternative to debt settlement.