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Google supports MP3tunes in EMI litigation

By | Published on Monday 17 January 2011


Google have reportedly filed a paper with the New York courts in support of in its legal battle with EMI. It’s a move which seems to confirm that the web giant’s ambitions in the digital content space lie with so called digital or cloud-based lockers.

As much previously reported, is the digital locker service run by Michael Robertson, previously the original founder of Digital lockers allow users to upload their MP3 collections to a remote server, and then access them – via download or stream – from any net connected device. was one of the first music-based digital locker services on the market, but it is widely believed that when Google launches its long awaited music offer, such an MP3 storage facility will be at its heart.

Robertson’s business has run into problems because EMI claims that a digital locker service such as the one he runs infringes copyright unless it is licensed by rights holders. The MP3tunes man argues that is an incorrect interpretation of copyright law, and is fighting EMI’s legal claim in the US courts. It’s been a long drawn out legal battle, but remains interesting because its outcome could set a precedent for the emerging digital locker market place, deciding, as it may, whether such services can operate without licences from content owners like record companies.

Although Google is thought to be talking to the four majors and big indie labels about licensing its digital music offer, the fact the web firm is supporting MP3tunes against one of those record companies is significant. The nature of Google’s label talks are secret, but presumably the web giant is discussing licensing services other than just a digital locker set up. Nevertheless, if MP3tunes were to win against EMI it would reduce the costs and hassle for Google in launching the storage element of their planned music service.

Commenting on Google’s ‘brief of amicus’ submission regards his legal battle with EMI, Robertson told P2Pnet last week: “Since Google has bet their entire future on the cloud it’s not a surprise to see them supporting MP3tunes. This will be a defining case about the future of cloud services”.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Electronics Association and IP lobbying group Public Knowledge are also expected to support MP3tunes in this court case, while EMI is reportedly backed by the Recording Industry Association Of America, the Motion Picture Association Of America and various American collecting societies.