Embattled MP3Tunes cloud locker files for bankruptcy

San Diego-based digital music locker provider MP3Tunes has filed for bankruptcy protection after a lengthy battle with major label EMI. The filing, which was made at the end of April and is available in its entirety online (PDF), will put the ongoing court case on hold and could prevent a final judgement in the matter. CNet’s Greg Sandoval was first to report about the filing.

MP3Tunes was launched in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Michael Robertson, who had previously founded the pioneering music hosting site MP3.com. The service has been offering its users a cloud-based locker for their MP3 collections, complete with apps for mobile and connected devices. EMI sued MP3Tunes in 2007, alleging that the site facilitated copyright infringement. Robertson wrote a lengthy comment about the bankruptcy on his blog, which reads in part:

“EMI spent an estimated $10 million dollars with multiple law firms to arm their attack against MP3tunes in an attempt to thwart unlicensed personal lockers. They know it’s difficult if not impossible for startups to fight long costly legal battles. Their hope is that the startup cannot fund a protracted legal battle and they win by default. This happened with the music search engine Seeqpod, Muxtape, Favtape and many others that have quietly faded away. They know that even if the digital upstart prevails in court, they will be terminally weakened. Veoh won multiple rounds of their copyright battle outright only to be forced into bankruptcy after spending $7 million on legal bills.”

Robertson recently started another personal media service with potential for lots of controversy: Dar.fm offers users to record shows from radio stations across the country, store the files in the cloud and sync them with multiple devices. Dar.fm at least initially piggybacked on the MP3Tunes infrastructure, but Robertson told me via email that the bankruptcy of the music locker will have “no effect” on Dar.fm.