A New York jury has ordered Michael Robertson, founder of MP3tunes.com, to pay an estimated $41 million in damages for infringement of copyrights owned by EMI Group. MP3tunes was best known for its cloud music service that allowed users to store music in online lockers, which could be downloaded through any internet device. MP3tunes.com is still online, offering cloud storage but no longer offering music to download.
In 2007, EMI sued MP3tunes, and, in 2012, MP3tunes filed for bankruptcy. The judge originally granted summary judgment to EMI, holding that MP3Tues and Robertson were liable for direct infringement for personally uploading some songs and there were issues of “willful blindness” and “red flag knowledge” regarding other songs on the site. In 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit addressed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor in Viacom v. YouTube, and as a result, the judge in MP3Tunes withdrew his prior summary judgment ruling.
While Robertson tried to argue that his infringements did not rise to a level of what is “objectively obvious” to a reasonable person, however it was ultimately up to the jury. The jury came back with a ruling that MP3tunes was willfully blind, leading to an estimated $41 million damages verdict including $7.5 million in punitive damages. This late March ruling was celebrated by the entertainment industry’s copyright advocates may have inspired Hollywood Studios to sue Megaupload in addition to suing Megaupload founder, Kim Dotcom.