Phew. Michael Robertson Finally Gets Sued

from the beginning-to-get-worried dept

For a little while there, we actually thought that Michael Robertson might have lost his touch. The serial entrepreneur had pretty near perfected his strategy for building startups: come up with a controversial business plan that totally undermines the business models of incumbents and then make sure you get sued for doing so, using that lawsuit as a publicity builder. He did it originally with and then followed that up with Lindows (which eventually had to change its name to Linspire). Next up was SIPphone, but that one was so late to the game that it had to sue Vonage since no one was suing it. Nearly three years ago when Robertson started another music startup, MP3Tunes, we were sure that he would quickly get sued. In fact, it seemed even more likely when he hired Hollywood's most hated hacker, DVD Jon. Yet, for some reason, the two could not come up with a plan to get sued, causing DVD Jon to move on.

After waiting so long, Robertson again tried to stir things up himself. Back in September he sued record label EMI for takedown notices the company had sent over MP3tunes', and the strategy finally paid off. EMI has returned the favor and is now suing MP3Tunes for for copyright infringement. Robertson, of course, can barely withhold his glee: "These guys rush off to court and tell the court that I am terrible and then they end up buying my company," which is indeed what happened with though, in this case, we'd hardly say that the labels "rushed" off to court. It looks like they had to be coaxed a bit. He also makes the following important point: "It is really a shame because instead of using these technologies to improve their business they make an enemy of every technology company out there." It sure took a while, but congratulations on finally getting the lawsuit.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    data64, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 7:16am

    1st para, 2nd last line.

    Yet, for some reason, the two could come up with a plan to get sued

    I am guessing that should be "could not come up with a plan".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    dualboot, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 7:18am


    I just don't know what to say to that one... anyone who sees my posts knows that a lack of words is not usually something that bothers me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    dualboot, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 7:26am

    thought of something...

    I don't know about the whole "trying to get sued" idea, but I know that Windows ended up paying Lindows lots of money to change their name... shortly after that the OS went from $49.95 to FREE under the Linspire name... and that's what I run on my second partition... I guess if he really does work at getting sued (and makes money off the deal), then that's probably why my CNR (Click 'n' Run) is always full of new, full-featured, free items... I guess the suits probably pay for the software development. Nice trick, getting windows to buy me Linspire, so I don't have to pay for it! I guess you gotta pay for opensource work somehow... many donate their time... but how many programmers are going to work full-time for free? I'm still a bit fuzzy on the ethics, but if the big companies are stupid enough to keep supporting opensource developers with their lawsuit money, I guess someone should reap the benefits.

    Also, #1... I agree that it should have been "could not come up with a plan"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 12th, 2007 @ 8:38am


    I am guessing that should be "could not come up with a plan".

    Oops. Right. Fixed. Thanks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Max Powers at, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 10:02am

    Trying to get sued

    What a way to make money. These type of people's brains must tick in a different direction than most.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 11:06am

    I don't see what the big problem with mp3tunes is. I used the service for a long time and loved it. I was able to listen to my entire music collection over the web anywhere I wanted, without having to setup a server, application and VPN at home that I could connect to all over the world (not to mention, the bandwidth that would involve that would probably make comcast shut me down). Only one or two people can stream at a time, so it's not like there is any way you can use the service to share your music "illegally".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 1:18pm

    Your story is that someone starts an mp3 company and the big music companies don't sue. Then he provokes a bunch of big music so that eventually he does get sued - for copyright infringement.
    Then your "important point" is something about big music companies making an enemy of the technology companies !!

    Note that copyright infringement is technology agnostic.
    Having a business case that requires to get sued is also technology agnostic.
    Writing a "tech" blog and not getting sued is also technology agnostic.

    We see from another story "One thing you can be sure of in the technology world today is that if you're even remotely successful, someone somewhere will attack you for patent infringement." does that mean techdirt is devoid of technology or just unsuccessfull ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    db0, Apr 23rd, 2008 @ 12:45am

    Appeal to publicity

    Be aware that Michael Robertson is now sending out emails to everyone begging them to become paying customers so that he can fight off EMI, which, as you rightly stated, he poked until they sued.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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