Michael Robertson, founder and former CEO of several startups including MP3.com and MP3Tunes, claims to have discovered evidence that major record label and staunch antipiracy advocate EMI is engaging in some hypocritical behavior that defies the company’s very public denouncement of file-sharing services.
This is just the latest development in the ongoing, ten-year battle between Robertson and EMI. After the record label was awarded $100 million to settle copyright claims against MP3.com in a lawsuit filed in 2000, Robertson has been involved in a another copyright infringement lawsuit with EMI since November of 2007 for his MP3Tunes startup.
Robertson spoke to digital news site P2P.net and gave details regarding his allegations against EMI:
“In defense of the Sideload.com music search engine, MP3tunes told the court that EMI promoted bands by distributing free MP3s online. EMI told the Judge our position was “pure fantasy” claiming that EMI never distributes free MP3 songs online.
Thanks to our users we quickly amassed a list of more than 1400 such fantasy EMI songs that were available online and in depositions they finally admitted they put free songs online so they would spread “virally”.
Confronted with these facts EMI’s position changed and they’re now saying that Sideload is linking in the wrong manner or to suspect places. To illustrate this they point to several examples. They say we link to Rapidshare which they called a known haven of piracy.
However we uncovered internal emails where EMI themselves put songs on Rapidshare and sent email to others instructing them to download them from Rapidshare.
With EMI spreading files far and wide, their experts grudgingly admit that it’s impossible to tell which links are authorized and which are not.”
Robertson has wasted no time in filing an opposition to EMI’s charges against MP3Tunes which includes this little nugget of hypocrisy that Robertson and his supporters uncovered. The following is from the papers filed in the Southern District of NY Court on November 24, 2010:
Given that Plaintiffs (EMI) themselves concede that they do not know which downloads on the Internet are authorized and which are not, it is astounding that Plaintiffs can then allege that MP3tunes possesses or should possess this knowledge. Plaintiffs claim that MP3tunes has disqualifying knowledge because Sideload.com displays links from “patently infringing sources.” Plaintiffs cherry-pick a few examples from personal websites from among the hundreds of thousands of Sideload links. However, even these few examples undermine their claims. For example, Plaintiffs list the site rapidshare.com despite the fact that Plaintiffs themselves have used this same site to virally distribute their music.
In their long-standing legal battle, Robertson and EMI seem to be on a mission to see who can get the last laugh (or judgment, if you want to be literal) by trying to upstage each other’s claims in court. It’s going to be interesting to see if EMI can top this one.
This revelation from Robertson is one good reason why the government shouldn’t just start taking over domains because the MPAA and RIAA tell them they are “rogue websites” that “line the pockets of their operators without paying a cent to creators behind the content.” With stories like these, the industries are going to find themselves discredited and without a leg to stand on in the legal system. Let’s hope so anyway.