MP3tunes verdict: music lockers are legal

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Julie Samuels posts analysis of yesterday's verdict in Capitol Records vs. MP3tunes, in which the big record labels were suing MP3tunes. The labels argued that MP3tunes wasn't eligible for the DMCA's "safe harbor" protection, and should have a duty to check all the files that users added to their lockers to make sure they didn't infringe copyright. The court disagreed.

But it appears that all of this worry and extra work may have been in vain. Just yesterday, a court found that an early music locker service, MP3tunes, which uses a de-duplicating process, "is precisely the type of system routinely protected by the DMCA safe harbor(s)." This outcome represents an understanding of copyright law more in line with how technology actually works, and avoids an absurd result where a music locker needs to waste server space by storing thousands of copies of identical files. This means more efficient music locker services, which is good news for music fans and for companies coming up with new and better ways to give those fans access to music they already own.

The opinion in the Capitol Records vs. MP3tunes case contained other good news (EFF filed an amicus brief in this case earlier this year). For example, the court made clear that the music locker service—whether it de-dupes or not—is like any online service provider (OSP) and, therefore, is entitled to the DMCA safe harbor protections as long as it complies with other DMCA requirements.

MP3tunes: A Victory for Music Lockers Is Good News for Music Fans