Judge: EMI can sue MP3tunes, not Michael Robertson

EMI filed a copyright suit against the founder of MP3tunes. District judge throws out complaint against Robertson but the case against his company can go forward.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Michael Robertson, MP3tunes founder, got some good news from a judge. His company wasn't as lucky. Michael Robertson

A federal judge has dismissed a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by EMI Group against Michael Robertson, founder of MP3tunes.

The bad news for Robertson, who also founded MP3.com and Linspire is that the judge allowed EMI, one of the four largest recording companies, to continue to pursue the copyright claims against MP3tunes, court documents show.

The case, filed last November in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was brought by 14 record companies and music publishers affiliated with EMI.

MP3tunes enables users to store music in the so-called cloud. The company's 150,000 customers upload their music into "lockers." They can then access the tunes from nearly any Web-enabled device.

EMI argues that MP3tunes doesn't have authorization to exploit the company's music this way. A representative from EMI couldn't be reached for comment late Wednesday evening.

Few in Silicon Valley know their way around a courtroom as well as Robertson. After founding MP3.com, which also enabled users to upload songs into digital music lockers, the major labels and publishing company took him to court. What's unique about EMI's most recent suit is that the recording company went after him personally.

"Suing CEOs personally is a nasty tactic media companies are engaging in to intimidate individuals," Robertson said in an e-mail. The tactic forces them to "either enter into a settlement or face the possibility" of financial hardship.

District Judge William Pauley said in dismissing the case that he didn't have jurisdiction over Robertson in New York. As for the continuing fight his company faces against EMI, Robertson said "the case against MP3tunes will determine if it is permissible for consumers to store their music in online commercial services for everywhere access, directly analogous to the way they currently store documents, photos, and other personal data in cloud services."