Michael Robertson's back in the news again, with his latest business idea that thumbs its nose at record labels. Robertson's got quite the track record in this space. First, with MP3.com, he built a service that digitized thousands of CDs people could listen to over the web. The company made it "legal" by only allowing people to listen to songs for which they showed they had a physical CD by putting the CD into their computer and registering it with the service. Unsurprisingly, the labels disagreed, and won a copyright-infringement case against the company. A few years later in 2005, he set up MP3Tunes.com, a site to sell unprotected MP3s. Unsurprisingly, none of the labels wanted anything to do with the venture, so it launched without any compelling content for sale. He then revamped the music-locker idea, hired DVD Jon to drum up some publicity, and launched it as part of MP3Tunes. Robertson had been quiet for a little while, but popped up again this week with the launch of AnywhereCD, a site selling full-length albums as unprotected MP3s. The site didn't look particularly promising because it had a pretty narrow selection, but it looks like it could be getting even narrower, as apparently Robertson didn't have permission from Warner Music to sell its content without copy protection, and the label wants it pulled from the site. Given Robertson's history, you'd think he'd be pretty mindful of this sort of thing, but then again, he's never been averse to the publicity-via-lawsuit PR technique. Perhaps what's a little more disappointing is that he's offered up new business models to the music industry, and gets met with lawsuits, rather than any interest. If users can still rip their own CDs to MP3s, why force them to buy the physical copy to get the digital version they really want?
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