Imeem: MP3tunes, you’re on your own

by Mathew on January 30, 2008 · 1 comment

I’m glad Mark Hopkins from Mashable wrote this post about Imeem — which just bought Anywhere.FM, a startup from YCombinator — and MP3tunes, the online music-sharing service from serial entrepreneur Michael Robertson (founder of Linspire and the original MP3.com). I’ve been watching the back-and-forth between Michael and Imeem CEO marketing VP Matt Graves on the Pho list with interest, since MP3tunes is being sued by EMI and Anywhere.FM does something very similar.

As Mark explains in his post, Michael asked the Imeem VP for his views on the legality of what Anywhere.FM does, and Graves said that he didn’t want to talk about the terms of the Anywhere.FM deal “now or ever, on the list or privately,” although he said he was sorry Michael was being sued. Robertson then responded that he just wanted the Imeem exec’s thoughts on whether the service was legal, and if so why — and was obviously interested in finding an ally in his lawsuit with EMI.

Graves shut this line of inquiry down as well, which I must admit I find odd. There’s no question that in the past Michael — rightly or wrongly — has been a lightning rod for lawsuits related to his various online services, but how does it help to avoid the issue? If Anywhere.FM and MP3tunes are similar services, and one is being sued by a record label, doesn’t it stand to reason that the other might as well? Perhaps Graves thinks he can avoid such an outcome so long as he doesn’t talk about it.

I wrote about the EMI lawsuit in this post, and linked to Michael’s overview of what the lawsuit is about, which is well worth a read. In a nutshell, EMI claims that an MP3tunes feature called Sideload is illegal, and so are the online music “lockers” that the company provides, where users can store songs — including songs that they have purchased through Amazon or other online services, which can be transfered directly into the locker. Sideload is much like Seeqpod (which is also being sued) or Songza.

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