Ex-MP3tunes chief hit with $41 million copyright verdict

Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:44pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chief executive of defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes was ordered to pay an estimated $41 million on Wednesday after being found liable for infringing copyrights owned by record companies and music publishers once part of EMI Group Ltd.

Lawyers for Michael Robertson and the EMI companies are expected to take until next Tuesday to figure out exactly how much money was awarded in the complex, lengthy verdict issued by the federal jury in Manhattan.

But a lawyer for EMI, Luke Platzer, estimated after the verdict was read that it added up to roughly $41 million. The verdict included $7.5 million in punitive damages.

The verdict came a week after the same jury found Robertson and the bankrupt company liable on various copyright infringement claims.

The case marked the latest victory for the music industry in its court battles with online content providers like Napster, Grokster and LimeWire, which they have accused of illegally distributing copyrighted recordings, resulting in lost revenue and profit.

Ira Sacks, a lawyer for Robertson, said he planned to appeal, saying that many of the claims against his client were not sustainable.

Andrew Bart, a lawyer for the EMI recording labels, declined to comment. Frank Scibilia, a lawyer for the EMI publishing companies, did not respond to a request for comment.

Founded in 2005 initially as a website selling independent musicians' songs, San Diego-based MP3tunes came to be known for its so-called cloud music service that allowed users to store music in online lockers.   Continued...

Michael Robertson (R), CEO of MP3.com, testifies before a Senate Judiciary committee on Capital Hill on the future of digital music, July 11, while Hank Barry (C), CEO of Napster Inc. and Roger McGuinn, member and co-founder of the band The Byrds, listen. MMR/RCS