by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 24th 2007 11:36pm
Michael Robertson, the founder of MP3.com, 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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