It finally happened: MP3tunes sued

Update/Disclaimer: It seems that Mp3tunes was sued as far back as November after practically poking EMI with a stick, but only now decided to ask for help. Be sceptical.

We were all scratching our heads on how Mp3tunes was pertaining to remain below the RIAA radar with such a blatant attempt to provide a service to their customers. As fate would have it, they finally got around to doing what many were expecting a long time before. Nevermind if the service is actually illegal (it does not seem to be) if others are helping the music labels make more money and/or discover their products, they deserve to be sued to oblivion!

Sometimes you have to wonder just how much more suicidal Music labels can get.

It’s not going to be a major blow to anyone in any sense of the way as a lot people were using it just as an online backup (including me) instead of an actual streaming service. Since they recently decided to stop providing free unlimited storage, the utility of it dropped like a stone.
Expect Mp3tunes to soon cave in under financial pressure and EMI to boast about a major blow or whatever.

The following is the email I received in my inbox this morning, I’m not the first to post it so you’ve probably read it elsewhere but just in case…

Dear MP3tunes Customer,

Let me start by saying that as the CEO of MP3tunes I appreciate your support over the last few years. Your suggestions and patience have helped us build the Locker system we have today. We just launched AutoSync that makes managing your music collection easier than ever.

As you may be aware, the major record label EMI has sued MP3tunes, claiming our service is illegal. You can read about the case here. Much is at stake — if you don’t have the right to store your own music online then you won’t have the right to store ebooks, videos and other digital products as well. The notion of ownership in the 21st century will evaporate. The idea of ownership is important to me and I want to make sure I have that right and my kids do too.

I would like to ask for your assistance in our battle for personal music ownership. We need your help because we are a small, 15-person company battling an international giant. They would like to make us spend all of our money paying legal bills. Here’s what you can do to help:

1) Please upgrade to a Premium account. This week MP3tunes is launching 3 service levels. I hope you will consider signing up for one of the paid levels. This will not only help us pay for the costs of our service (machines, storage and bandwidth) but a portion will go to cover our legal costs in our case with EMI.

2) If you have a chance to talk publicly about our cause on your blog, with friends, reporters or even EMI personnel please do so. MP3tunes is working hard to design a secure personal music service. We don’t promote sharing of music in any manner. We want people to legally acquire their music. But once they do, we think it’s important that you be able to use it how you want for your personal use. The AmazonMP3 store says: “You may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use.” and this is what MP3tunes allows you to do.

You have my commitment that I’ll continually battle for your right to store your music online and listen to it anywhere on any device. I hope you’ll consider helping MP3tunes in our battle. Thanks.

— Michael Robertson

For those noot familiar with this person btw, it is the same one who in the past started which was, unsurprisingly sued back in 2000 and lost (this last bit of info taken from Crunchgear). Michael Robertson just can’t get any love from the Recording Cartel…

My first Cease and Desist notice

So today I got an interesting email. It came from the legal department of a previous company I worked for (which wherewith will remain anonymous and called “the company”). Inside, in firm legal speech, I was informed that I was breaking Greek and international laws concerning anonymous enterprises and privacy. Therefore, I was ordered to remove all references to the company within 24 hours as well as any mention of software/hardware or people involved in a employee relationship with the company.

They also reserve the right to see on receiving damages resulting from the content of my site

My initial reaction was: WTF!!?

My surprise was mostly due to the fact that other than the company name (in a tag related to the post) and various generic information, such as a mentioning the operating system when I run into a computer problem, or mentioning the classic Greek ERP system when advertising the requirements of an IT position they were trying to fill (FFS! I even did that for free), I did not mention any names (specifically, I did not mention any names in a libelous fashion, but only in positive ways) and nor any other identification data.

Seriously, my worst post must have been one where I mentioned a christmas party and how boring it was. Or some random tech quotes (that every tech has) that had only my name on them. Oh and some pictures.

My impression is that apparently someone at the company saw some of my not-so-positive posts and recognized themselves in the anonymous mention, then got quite angry/insulted/whatever. Failing the option to fire me, they decided to bully me around.

So now I am pissed.

I have privatized my posts about them (even though, I really shouldn’t) until I know how much danger I am in. I know that Greece is notoriously behind in electronic rights (as exemplified by the Tsipropoulos case) and they may side with the company just because they don’t know what the hell is going on, but I want to think that International or European rights are a bit more advanced. But I just don’t know.

So I’m turning to you, my readers (yeah right I hear you say?). I want to ask any of you, especially those of you with legal background and especially in Greece, if I should worry or not and if the following are considered intellectual property or libel.

  • Mentioning the name of the company I used to work for and my position there.
  • Mentioning specifics of the company (such as saying that they were using such and such OS, or this program or whatnot). Not that I did before, but I’d like to know…
  • Pictures of me and other company stuff in events
  • Mentioning of Operating system used in an event (such as when creating a guide on how I fixed a computer). Can I say something like: “So when the Vista pc died, I had to replace the harddisk and reinstall SAP”. Can they actually consider this intellectual property?
  • Can I mention doing unpaid overtime? Am I allowed to complain about my treatment? Can I mention my salary? How about salaries of other people that used to work in there? What does the law allow me?
  • Can I rant on the incompetence of users without mentioning names. Does the fact that they work in the company make my rant a libel?
  • Can I mention the incompetence of management?
  • If I do not mention IP address’ or specific dns/netbios names, is it a violation of the company’s IP or security to mention a router or other piece of hardware vaguely? (i.e. “The router at Tsimiski”)

So I would really appreciate anyone’s advice on this, as it came out of nowhere and caught me unprepared. I do not like to be bullied and this kind stuff really gets me angry. Before I did not care about the company, hell, I even went beyond the call of duty too many times with them but this is preposterous and I would like to fight back.