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March 17, 2008

Will Backing up Music Soon Be Illegal?

By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief

(The following is taken from Rich Tehrani’s (News - Alert) VoIP blog:)

Some of you may remember that MP3.com was a dot-com era company allowing people to upload CDs they owned and then stream this music to various devices. It was a service ahead of its time and in fact Webot does something similar but it keeps the files on the user's computer.

Fast forward eight years and Michael Robertson the man behind MP3.com is behind MP3Tunes.com, a company supplying a service which does almost the same thing as MP3.com.

Amazingly, MP3.com was sued into nonexistence by the RIAA, and now the RIAA is after MP3Tunes. Same person, different company, same or similar lawsuit.

While I understand why the RIAA doesn't want a vast library of music on the Internet I also see why Michael Robertson's attempt to allow us to store our music online is good for consumers. As Michael states, his company is personally defending the rights of all Internet users to back up their music.

I feel for the record labels... I really do. The thing is, record execs seem to always make the wrong move when it comes to the digital era and music.

They seem to have a sue first, ask questions later mentality that has hurt them. The classic example is suing Napster into oblivion and subsequently sending illegal file sharing users to dozens of competitive services which is far more difficult to police.

As Robertson points out, if MP3Tunes loses this case, we may not be allowed to store MP3s on any hosted service at all.

Somehow, this lawsuit leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I hope consumers realize what's at stake and get involved in letting record labels know they have the right to back up their own music wherever and however they like.


Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC (News - Alert). In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended VoIP event, Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.

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