Next Time You Announce An Agreement To Sell DRM-Free Downloads, Perhaps You Should Actually Have That Agreement

from the just-a-suggestion dept

Michael Robertson, the founder of, Linspire, SIPphone and a number of other companies has a pretty direct formula for getting publicity for his new startups: do something outrageous that pretty much guarantees a lawsuit. Then just assume that the resulting lawsuit will drive the publicity of the startup. Of course, sometimes such a strategy can backfire. Earlier this year, Robertson launched AnywhereCD with the claim that he would be selling DRM-free downloads from Warner Music — perhaps the most stringent holdout in ditching DRM. Except… apparently Warner Music thought it had agreed to something entirely different and quickly sued AnywhereCD. It was actually somewhat difficult to understand Warner Music’s claim. AnywhereCD was selling the physical CD, it was just that they would then also offer the digital tracks from the same exact CD. Basically, all the company was doing was saving people the step of having to rip the CDs they had legally purchased. Either way, eventually Warner and Robertson settled, allowing Robertson to continue to sell the DRM free tracks… but only through the end of September. If you look at your calendar, you’ll realize that this is the end of September and Warner Music certainly had no interest in renewing any kind of deal with Robertson — so it should come as no surprise that AnywhereCD is shutting down. It certainly looks like the controversial marketing strategy failed in this case. Previously, the lawsuits tended to be from competitors. When the lawsuits are from your suppliers, it gets really difficult to build an actual business.

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Companies: anywherecd, warner music

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Comments on “Next Time You Announce An Agreement To Sell DRM-Free Downloads, Perhaps You Should Actually Have That Agreement”

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John (user link) says:

I also miss (and I’m not just saying that because I was an intern there!), however their CD ripping service wasn’t exactly that; it was an application that matched the CD you put in your CD-Rom drive with a copy they had on their servers; once it authenticated your CD (ie: verified that it was a genuine store-bought copy and not a homemade copy), it gave you access to this music in your virtual jukebox, a brilliant concept I quite enjoyed – while it lasted. Then the big label lawsuits followed and went on a slow downward spiral (that included falling into Vivendi’s Messier’s clueless hands)… The records labels ruined a good thing that added value to music through portability of one’s own legitimate CD collection. Now the labels are pretty much fucked and they think they can sue everyone they please, well they can but for every company they bring down another 10 companies pop up that facilitate the listening and/or sharing of music (such as – streaming of entire songs/albums, not to mention private p2p solutions that let people copy entire folders from each other’s harddrives such as )

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