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EMI vs Google, AOL, Microsoft (The Entire Internet)

Many of you are probably aware that the major record label EMI is suing MP3tunes. While MP3tunes has the obligation to pay 100% of the legal bills, we are really defending the entire Internet. This is because the actions EMI is complaining about are also performed by hundreds if not thousands of other Internet companies including all the giants like Google, AOL, and Microsoft. If MP3tunes loses our case then it sets a dangerous precedent for others because the major labels can use our case to make identical claims against every well known net company and a long list of smaller companies and demand money from them or shut them down entirely.

At the core of the disagreement between EMI and MP3tunes is the fact that MP3tunes stores MP3 files at the request of the user. EMI says this is a copyright infringement, but MP3tunes is not the first to offer such storage services. We may offer the best music experience, but every major net company offers online storage of MP3 files - many before MP3tunes even existed.

Examples of Major Net Companies Which Offer MP3 Storage - And Allow Sharing
Company
Service
Notes
Google
Google Page Creator, Gmail
Google Page Creator is free service popular for MP3 file hosting. Hundreds of millions of MP3 files are stored and sent to others using Gmail.
AOL
Xdrive
5 gbs of free storage with MP3s being the most popular file type. Main page touts "Easily share" your files. Service has feature to send email to as many people as you like giving them full access to your files.
Microsoft Windows Live! Skydrive
5 gbs of free storage. Stores MP3 files. Main page says "share files with the world".

Each of these net giants along with hundreds of other smaller companies (box.net, Mediamax, etc.) offers online storage of music files. These sites generally store all types of files, but MP3 files are the most popular type of document they house. Some even have a built in music player like MP3tunes offers so you can play your music directly from a web browser. While others may offer a less elegant music storage solution, MP3tunes is not being sued because we have a great web player and "Smart PlayMix" (which, by the way, is a really incredible feature). We are being sued for storing MP3s and all the companies listed above do the same thing.

An ironic twist is that all of the services listed above allow and often encourage MP3 file sharing which MP3tunes does not. Microsoft says you can "share files with the world". AOL touts how easy it is to share. Many have an e-mail component so you can send the files or links to the files to an unlimited number of people for free copying. This contrasts with MP3tunes which has no Locker sharing with others. There is no anonymous access whatsoever - everything is protected by unique usernames and passwords. Additionally MP3tunes incorporates other security measures that go far beyond any other online storage facility checking to see if an account has been compromised.

After learning these facts some are puzzled and ask why EMI is suing MP3tunes and me personally. I must admit I don't know the answer to this. Before this suit I considered EMI the most progressive record label. They were the first to license their music to Apple without DRM. They were the first to sell their songs via Amazon in MP3 format. They seem to be understanding that the way you sell a lot of tacos is to put taco stands everywhere. So this lawsuit seems out of character. Perhaps it is because I have been a harsh critic of DRM for more than a decade? My position was/is that going with an open format will make you more money and I think EMI's steps with Apple, Amazon and others prove that.

EMI's motivation aside, this is a critically important lawsuit not just because it will dictate MP3tunes' future, but it will change the entire Internet. Either consumers have the right to use the Internet to store their property or they do not. If companies that assist them are declared copyright infringers they will be put out of business by crushing monetary penalties. This is what is at stake with our lawsuit and why I call it EMI v The Internet.

--MR
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