Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MP3 Tunes & The Future of Cloud Music

The long awaited decision in the MP3 Tunes case has just been handed down with what looks to be a positive ruling for music locker services. The case concerned the failure to remove infringing files from users lockers once notified by EMI that they were being used illegally. While the decision ultimately saw the site and its operator, Michael Robertson, liable for copyright infringement, the judge has given a green light to the continued operation of the service, signalling a positive basis for the introduction of Amazon and Google's new services - without licences from the recording industry.

The court held that MP3 Tunes could not have reasonably known that illegal files were being stored on its service and without notification from rights holders, was under no obligation to conduct a search or investigation to establish the legitimacy of the songs. Furthermore, the court held that any increase in traffic or usage due to the availability of the music locker, was not of itself proof that inducement or authorisation of copyright infringement had taken place.

MP3 Tunes only lost its DMCA safe harbour protection when it failed to remove files that it had been advised by rights holders were illegal - it disabled access to them by removing them from the search mechanism but did not take the added step of removing the files altogether. Robertson was held liable for direct infringement after it was established that he had used the company's app 'sideload.com' to bring illegal files into his personal locker space.

Further Reading
TechDirt, MP3Tunes Ruling Protects DMCA Safe Harbors (22 August 2011) < http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110822/17284715623/mp3tunes-ruling-protects-dmca-safe-harbors.shtml > at 23 August 2011

ArsTechnica, Record labels get hollow victory in MP3tunes infringement case (22 August 2011) < http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/08/record-labels-get-hollow-victory-in-mp3tunes-infringement-case.ars > at 23 August 2011

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