There’s been an interesting development in EMI’s legal squabble with Michael Robertson’s digital locker service MP3tunes.com.
As previously reported, EMI sued the unlicensed MP3tunes.com over its music-focused digital locker service, and also another platform it operates which allows users to store and share links to other online sources of music, many of which are also unlicensed. MP3tunes.com argued that its digital locker did not need a licence from music companies, and that it was protected from liability for misuse of its links store service by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, providing it operates a takedown service to remove links to illegal content when made aware of them.
Although the courts criticised MP3tunes.com for running a slack takedown system, and Robertson personally for posting links to unlicensed content, they agreed with the digital firm that they could not be liable for any misuse of the links service by other people because of DMCA protection.
The interesting development is that EMI has filed new papers asking the court to reconsider its ruling regards any links to unlicensed tracks that were released before 1972. This is because federal copyright law cannot overrule state copyright rules for content published before 1972. Universal Music is using the same legal anomaly in its lawsuit against sharing-and-streaming service Grooveshark, which also claims it is protected by the DMCA safe harbour clauses.
It will be interesting to see how the courts react to this re MP3tunes.com. It could put a strain on the DMCA if it is decided that safe harbour principles do not apply to pre-1972 content.