Michael Robertson, the founder and former CEO of bankrupt digital music storage locker MP3tunes was found liable Wednesday for infringing on recordings, copyrights and cover art owned by a group of companies once owned by EMI. The federal jury found that MP3tunes and its executive were "willfully blind" to copyright infringement on the site.
Robertson is a serial music tech entrepreneur who in 1997 launched MP3.com, one of the web's first popular digital music sites.
More than 2,100 copyrights were at issue in the liability phase of the MP3tunes trial, including some by David Bowie, The Beatles and Coldplay. The suit, originally filed in 2007, also took aim at a related Robertson founded site, Sideload.com. His attorneys argued that Robertson should not be held liable, in part, because labels also made copies of many of the same songs available free online.
Roberston was not held liable for prated tracks stored by others on MP3tunes lockers. Over the next two or three days, jurors will decide the size of damages due from yesterdays verdict and an earlier ruling against Roberston's company.
Music Tech Contrarian
Robertson has been a long term critic of big labels, publishers and what he see as antiquated copyright laws. He frequently penned opinon pieces published by many music and tech sites, including Hypebot.
Robertson is also no stranger to litigation. A federal judge shut down MP3.com in 2000 and a settlement netted an estimated $160 million rights holders. Juatt a year later, Roberston sold MP3.com to Vivendi for $373 million. After the purchase by Vivendi, he cashed in with an estimated $103 million.[CBS later bought the site.