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Court Ruling Denies EMI Access to Millions of Personal MP3 Files

A New York Judge has denied a request by EMI to force MP3tunes to turn over all music files for its 125,000 users. For now, this means the contents of personal music Lockers will remain private.

Court Ruling Denies EMI In court EMI v MP3tunes, EMI demanded that MP3tunes provide copies of the more than 100 million songs in their subscribers' personal music Lockers. MP3tunes offers a free and paid service for people to store their music files digitally so customer or music fans can both keep them backed-up and listen to them anywhere through a Net radio, like those from Logitech, Reciva or Terratec, or from any Net connected device, such as a Wii or PC. The newest feature allows subscribers to automatically sync their music files to a device of their choosing so all their music is where they want it to be, without the hassles of running software and plugging devices in via USB cables. All access to a music Locker requires a unique username and password, and there is absolutely no sharing between Lockers.

MP3tunes strongly objected to EMI's request, because it was both an invasion of user's personal storage, and because it would create a huge technical and financial burden, with more than 300 terabytes of files in personal Lockers. Files are not MP3tunes' possessions any more than the contents of a safety deposit box are owned by the bank that houses them. The storage provided by MP3tunes is the user's own space. A Locker is empty when someone opens an account and that customer decides what files are placed into their Locker. All files are stored at the request of the user. People who choose to utilize remote storage should be guaranteed the same level of privacy they have for the files stored on their local hard disk.

No corporation should have the right to demand the content of tens of thousands of personal accounts be turned over to them. There's no reason to suggest that the users are doing anything but listening to their own music collections in a modern manner. There are millions of Gmail accounts that have MP3 files stored in them same with Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft's email and hosting services. If EMI can gain unfettered access to wantonly look through personal accounts on MP3tunes those services will be next.

EMI is trying to eliminate online storage and take people back to a prehistoric time before Internet services existed. I'm not sure the Judge saw this as a privacy issue, but he got it right when he rejected EMI's demands to turn over personal files for thousands of unsuspecting people. It is an early, but very important, ruling in our battle with EMI. This fight will likely prove to be a long one, because some record labels would rather spend millions in attorney fees trying to outlaw all new technologies, like online storage and web hosting, rather than figure out how to use them to grow their business. At stake is personal ownership and privacy in the digital era both issues worth fighting for.

--MR

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