Jury Hits Michael Robertson With Estimated $41 Million Infringement Bill Over MP3Tunes

from the excessive? dept

Following last week's decision by a jury that Michael Robertson could be held personally liable for songs that he "sideloaded" into his MP3Tunes music locker via the site's Sideload.com feature, the jury has now issued a verdict so complicated that no one is quite sure how much Robertson is being ordered to pay, but it's believed to be in the range of $41 million. The verdict seems questionable on a variety of levels, not the least of which is that MP3Tunes apparently had, and followed, a clear DMCA takedown policy (which an earlier court ruling had found to be sufficient). Where this case became more complicated was over the question of whether or not the company had "red flag knowledge" of infringement and whether Robertson himself was liable, in that he'd "sideloaded" certain songs that he'd found publicly available elsewhere online into his music locker. The details of the apparently very complex ruling will be important, but anyone who runs a cloud computing service might want to pay attention to this case, as it's going to be a rather important one as it moves through the appeals process.

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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 26th, 2014 @ 6:15pm

    Personally liable, for 41 million, an amount of money 99.9% of people will never have a chance of getting even a fraction of in their entire lifetime...

    Yeah, copyright 'damages' are completely and utterly insane.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 2:39am

      Re:

      "an amount of money 99.9% of people will never have a chance of getting even a fraction of in their entire lifetime"

      Including the artists who were supposed "damaged" by this service, but who in reality only lost a way for their paying fans to enjoy the music they already paid for.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 8:27pm

    Totally meaningless numbers. It probably won't pay the court costs on what they recover, if Michael Robertson is like most people.

    It is a good demonstration of just how insane these laws are.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 9:17pm

      Re:

      He isn't like most people. According to the article, "MP3.com was sold a year later to Vivendi Universal for about $372 million, with $120 million going to Robertson's family trust". So he likely has enough to pay it. Certainly he has more than enough to pay the court costs.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Mar 26th, 2014 @ 9:45pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem is that makes him one of the very few able to pay the astronomical fines that always seem levied due to copyright infringement, but you can bet the trolls and maximalists will use this to threaten other people accused of infringement with equally insane fees, since this helps set precedent.

        And of course it goes without saying that not a cent will likely find it's way to the actual artists, the ones 'harmed' by his actions and supposedly the driving force behind these types of lawsuits, with the money instead going towards nice bonuses for the lawyers, execs, and what remains poured straight back into funding even more lawsuits.

         

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Mar 26th, 2014 @ 8:30pm

    This is why I do NOT ever use cloud services. That's like sending up a flare to the U.S. Government and the FBI shouting "COME AND GET ME".

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 9:27pm

      Re:

      I am confused as to why Michael Robertson being held liable for damages related to the business he created around storing and ultimately sharing MP3 files is the reason why you do NOT ever use cloud services?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 11:58pm

        Re: Re:

        Then you're an idiot. MP3Tunes allowed you to store your MP3 collection online, where other people could listen.

        The fact that Robertson has been held personally liable for his company's actions, when other companies I could name with actual criminal offenses committed are not, speaks volumes about 'justice' in the US.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Umm... actually, he's being personally held liable for the songs he personally sideloaded... the red-flag thing is a separate part of that complex formula, apparently.

          Idiots' Club meets down the hall on the left...

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Sideloading is an aspect of deduplication, in order to reduce storage costs. If numerous links point to the same centrally-stored dataset, and some of those links are 'unauthorised', then does that make the single file in the deduplication process an unautorised file?

            This is the logic that is being applied in the Robertson case. And, in my own not-so-humble estimation, that is wrong.

             

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              PaulT (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 6:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "If numerous links point to the same centrally-stored dataset, and some of those links are 'unauthorised', then does that make the single file in the deduplication process an unautorised file?"

              This is one of the important questions, and one the industry supporters tend to side-step (either deliberately or because they don't understand the issues everyone else is discussing).

              That is - you can't just "tell" whether a file is infringing or not since the exact same file can be both infringing and infringing depending on who uploaded it. The status can also change without changing the file itself (e.g. if someone has permission to copy the file, then that permission is revoked).

              The basic flaw in all the argument used tends to be that they not only don't consider these facts, but they also place the burden on to a 3rd party who cannot possibly know all of the details.

               

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      Or download Linux and set up your own cloud server. OwnCloud 6.0 personal edition works pretty well and there are a bunch of addons you can put on your own server. You then have your own private cloud server.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 2:31am

    Makes perfect sense

    Share some music? $41M in fines.

    Crash the US economy, cause millions of people to lose their jobs and homes? How about a golden parachute and a cushy job in government?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:15am

    [i]anyone who runs a cloud computing service might want to pay attention to this case[/i]

    Only if you're sideloading copyrighted material then freely distributing it. Don't put legitimate service providers in the same platter as idiots who can't cover their tracks then get sued. Cloud services are completely unaffected by this and will continue to be.

    Provide explanations how legit cloud providers would ever be influenced by this decision. Otherwise it's just dis-informed fear mongering.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:43am

      Re:

      You've not seen the borderline-illegal actions of both the Government and the MPAA before?

       

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      PaulT (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:48am

      Re:

      Yeah, no other file locker or similar cloud service has ever been affected by any of these types of ruling, and nobody's ever tried using similar (but logically unrelated) cases to go against companies who are otherwise working legitimately. Certainly, no company's ever been held liable for what the users of their service do, even if they follow the rules exactly and do nothing themselves to infringe copyright.

      Wait...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:28am

    > anyone who runs a cloud computing service might want to pay attention to this case

    Only if you do it in the US, or have a subsidiary in the US. It's saner to simply avoid the US when creating new cloud computing services.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 5:52am

    And punishment that fits the infraction goes boom.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 11:17am

    Chock-full of dumb

    Dear Future,

    We don't care how useful you are, unless we get paid for EVERYTHING you can go take a running jump. All your culture are belong us.

    Sincerely

    The Legacy Entertainment Industries.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2014 @ 11:15am

    Has anybody tried defense theory that DMCA is void altogether because laws can't be bought? Not sure about win, but certainly would throw in a monkey wrench into the case just by pursuing discovery from plaintiffs. They certainly don't want list of bought congressmen to be produced to adversary.

     

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