This Is The New EMI? Trying To Personally Bankrupt CEOs Of Companies It Doesn't Like?

from the how-nice-of-them dept

Last year, a private equity firm took over the major record label EMI and announced that things were going to be different. It wasn’t going to be anti-fan. It was going to look on the success stories of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails not as a threat, but as an opportunity. It even threatened to leave the RIAA and the IFPI unless it pulled back on suing fans. It then went out and hired internet savvy executives who would (hopefully) contribute a different perspective to the running of a major record label.

But, in the midst of all of this, it hasn’t really backed down from a variety of ridiculous lawsuits. For example, it’s been a part of a lawsuit against an ISP that refuses to spy on its users and cut off those who do unauthorized file sharing. We also noted last year that it had sued Michael Robertson’s startup, MP3Tunes. Now we tend to have a lot of fun accusing Robertson of having the same marketing strategy with every company he starts: piss off some established company, get sued. It seems to happen with pretty much every company he starts from to Lindows/Linspire to SIPphone. So it really wasn’t a huge surprise to see MP3Tunes sued — though, it’s difficult to see how a personal music storage locker that doesn’t allow sharing could possibly be infringing.

However, now it appears that the “new” more “friendly” EMI isn’t just suing MP3Tunes. According to Boing Boing and Michael Robertson, it’s trying to extend the lawsuit to go after Robertson personally, saying that he should be personally liable. As you probably know, one of the purposes of a corporate structure is to limit the liability of the executives of a company. To go after Robertson personally makes very little sense unless the idea is to intimidate. Many executives will quickly settle in such circumstances so as to not open themselves up to such a huge liability. On top of that, the chilling effects are tremendous. Others won’t even think of starting innovative services, for fear of being personally liable in a lawsuit.

Unless EMI pulls back its lawyers, I think we can safely conclude that the “new” EMI hasn’t really changed much from the old EMI.

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Companies: emi, mp3tunes

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Comments on “This Is The New EMI? Trying To Personally Bankrupt CEOs Of Companies It Doesn't Like?”

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Sandbomb says:

Makes sense

I think the “New EMI” might be making a dominant move by suing this Robertson fellow, like you said. It’ll stop him and many others from pulling the same routine, but’ll surely damage the company’s reputation. I’m almost certain that the legal action will eventually die without anyone getting hurt, especially if the company wishes to retain the little outgrowing amount of good press it’s been getting since the takeover.If it doesn’t, then it could possibly be a step backwards from that and step forward to Publicity suicide, I don’t think the new EMI are likely to do that.

Just give it time, you’ll see that the EMI execs will eventually back off, this all might just be some sort of threat to gain a bit of ground.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is just speculation, but I’m guessing maybe the entire industry is having difficulty identifying talent and creating art, thus the focus is on maintaining existing (and relatively small) existing music portfolios.

Akin to trying to squeeze the last drop out of the lemon rather than getting off their asses to find a lemon tree.

Anyone else find the story of Spielberg working with Bollywood interesting?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Daltry said it best:

Thanks, James.

Now, you mentioned “not fun things” could occur to me or my company. Well, I like the idea that your open to personal malace. But, can we make a gentileman’s deal: Upon said “infringement” can you direct said “not fun things” towards my ex-wife instead?

I eagerly await your response so I can elaborate on your commentary.


James Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Daltry said it best:


Please be advised that your defamatory and mocking language towards me constitutes hate speech, libel, playground bickering, intense dislike, sarcasm, deceptive depiction of another human being and animal abuse (I am a dog).

I have asked my lawyer, a Mr. Rev. Capt. Leonard J. “Electric Britches” Crabs, Esquire, Inc., successful representative, demigod, superhero and debtor to the stars, especially, to do something bad to you involving legal maneuvering, voodoo, spyware, and things I saw on Matlock.

If you do not comply with my take down notice (the one I scribbled in lipstick on your bathroom mirror the other day), I will be forced to yell very loudly nasty things about you, especially how you’ve left my kitchen a mess every time you broken in, and how my cat can never look me in the eye after what you did yesterday.


James Riley


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Daltry said it best:

Mr. Riley,

We ran your request by our PR and marketing departments and they concluded brand value for the Coward Corporation would be poised to diminish by a factor of 95%.

In light of these facts, we are willing to work a compromise and not see these issues settled outside of the courts. We’re quite aware that your utilization of Matlock practices coupled with the loud noises will surely hold up in court over the non-formal takedown notice. (Nice choice of hues by the way, it was the first one I’ve been privy to receive that has been in six different colors.) Please have your representation, “Electric Britches” Crabs, Esquire, Inc. contact our representation at Frisky Critter Dog and Cat Food Company at their earliest convenience.

As for the misunderstanding with your cat, and kitchen snafu, understand that the hired help we sent to bake your birthday cake was allergic to cats and it was not checked off on page 17 of the triplicate form we received. The mistakes with your cat, Mr. Bigglesworth will be addressed by my superior- Dr. Evil. He will be contacting you at your place of residence.

As part of the compromise, we would additionally be willing to upgrade from “Something Awful” to something were you can be the man, now that you mentioned your a dog. James, let me also share with you our intentions to make you into a “Good Boy”, and we have a few chicken bones for you left over from the KFC we had the evening before last. As a Jack Russel Terrier, you should find them appealing to the palate. Additionally, as part of the settlement, we’ll consider taking the invisible fence collar off of you should you agree to the terms.

We look forward to a mutually beneficial conclusion to this humourous misunderstanding.

Peace Love and hair grease,



RevMike says:

Not quite right about liability

“As you probably know, one of the purposes of a corporate structure is to limit the liability of the executives of a company.”

That isn’t true. Corporations limit the liability of the owners (shareholders), not the executives.

In a corporation, the shareholders can see the value of their stock go to zero, but they generally cannot be held further liable. In a non-corporate structure like a partnership, any individual partner can be held liable for the entire firm. Imagine GM were to go under, and Joe Schmoe small investor who had 5 shares suddenly found his house taken away. That is what a corporation prevents.

Corporate protection is not 100%. The owners of a corporation can be held liable if they did not operate the corporation as an independent entity. If GM owns a controlling interest in another corp, and then moves assets freely back and forth between that corp and the parent, or amongst the corp and other corps controlled by the same parent, the parent and the sibling corps may be held liable as well. The protection for a shareholder that is not operating the corp is virtually a 100%.

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