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Judge reviews MP3tunes ruling

By | Published on Wednesday 1 October 2014

Michael Robertson

A US judge has cut back the mega-damages MP3tunes founder Michael Robertson was ordered to pay for enabling rampant copyright infringement. Though the entrepreneur is still left with a pretty mega-damages bill. And while said judge did criticise the record industry in his ruling, he was pretty damning of the MP3tunes man too.

As much previously reported, Robertson was one of the early entrants into the music-specific digital locker market with his MP3tunes service. The record industry quickly called foul on the business on copyright grounds, though in the end much of the complicated copyright infringement lawsuit pursued by EMI centred on a spin-off service called Sideload and Robertson’s own sharing of content on his platform.

The MP3tunes company went under during the litigation, but EMI successfully convinced the court to let it continue to sue Robertson personally. In the end he basically lost the case, and was ordered to pay damages which eventually totalled $48 million. Which definitely counts as mega-damages.

Robertson unsurprisingly appealed, asking the judge to set aside the jury verdict on the basis it was unsupported by evidence. In a lengthy review, the judge says that original case was very challenging for the jury because of the legal complexities, though says that both parties in the legal battle added to that problem by submitted unnecessarily lengthy arguments. Robertson’s theatrics in court were also criticised.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in his review the judge does question various elements of EMI’s arguments, most notably the allegations Robertson was liable for “wilful blindness” to the copyright infringement his service enabled, one of the most interesting elements of the original judgement. Though in the end, on the key issue of damages, it was only the so called punitive damages, which added $7.5 million to the tally, that the judge deemed were inappropriate, proposing a figure closer to $750,000.

Though he offered the plaintiffs an opportunity to force the issue of punitive damages to be debated in a new trial, meanwhile Robertson may attempt a further appeal of the entire original ruling. So, more MP3tunes funtimes to come we suspect.