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EMI Loses Case - I Get To Keep My Minivan

Nearly one year ago, EMI sued both MP3tunes and me personally for copyright infringement. The court just handed down a ruling giving us a win for half the case. Judge Pauley dismissed the claims against me and ruled that the claims against MP3tunes would proceed in his New York court. This is a significant victory because EMI had sought to take my cars, home and bank accounts simply for being CEO of a responsible Internet service which people use to listen to their personal music collections everywhere, including any modern mobile phone. (Try sending a couple of your own songs to your phone with our brand new Load2Mobile service.)

Michael's Minivan

Despite the attempt at humor in the headline, personal lawsuits are a gravely serious matter. Increasingly, media companies are suing CEOs of companies as individuals. This intimidation tactic has permeated cases involving Limewire, Multiply, isoHunt, and others. Faced with the possibility of losing their homes and seeing their lives destroyed, CEOs often relent to the pressure and agree to settle. I've spoken with some of these CEOs who tell of the massive worry and pressures from spouses, family members and friends concerned about their well being. It's a short-circuiting of the court system, which is meant to adjudicate disagreements between businesses in this technologically-shifting era. At MP3tunes, I had the same personal pressures, but decided to stand up to their threats and was, fortunately, successful. I believe consumers should have rights with their music libraries, and that this is a worthy cause to stand up for.

The Judge dismissed the suit against me, clearing the way for the case against MP3tunes to proceed. I'm anxious to get to the merits of the case. Our position maintains that consumers should have the right to listen to their personal music collections anywhere, just like they can view their photos, email, videos and other digital property from multiple places (all of which require online storage). This is exactly the technology solution we have built at MP3tunes. Your music can be available on your computers, net radios, Tivo, Wii and most recently your mobile phone. (Try a virtual version of Logitech's fun new Squeezebox Boom radio.)

EMI doesn't want "your music everywhere" to happen but, as the world moves to the cloud, it's a technological inevitability. EMI's leadership states publicly, and with much fanfare, that they are embracing new technology, doing MP3 files and even hiring ex-Google people. But, those new hires sit quietly in their offices, afraid to go against the legal departments wishes (which astonishingly still control strategy for most record labels). In their attempt to stop MP3tunes, EMI is using their massive legal department and deep pockets. They are telling the courts we are pirates. When the court sees through those scare tactics, EMI will probably drown the court in technical arguments to draw attention away from the core issue: it's your music and you should be able to listen to it anywhere!

I look forward to explaining to the court how MP3tunes is making it possible for more than 150,000 people to listen to their music everywhere — including some EMI personnel who have personally complimented me on our system! Our goal is to ensure that whether in your home, work or on-the-go, you have your music library at your ears. It is unfortunate that we are being dragged into court and have to expend time and money on this issue, but someone has to go first. Someone has to blaze a trail defining consumers' rights with their personal music. All of us at MP3tunes are committed to seeing this through. The next round of legal papers are due in about a month, and I'll post them once they're filed. Thanks for your continued support!

-- MR

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