Image representing MP3Tunes as depicted in Cru...

The founder of MP3Tunes was found to be liable for copyright infringement on Wednesday in a New York court. The founder, Michael Robertson, was found to have been “willfully blind” to the piracy taking place on his site. The suit was filed initially by Capitol Records and others seven years ago. At one point┬áMP3Tunes.com and the Robertson owned Sideload.com, had a catalog of more than 400,000 recordings by 40,000 artists.

It has been a big week for major copyright cases, first Viacom and YouTube, and now the MP3Tunes case. The YouTube case never reached a final judgment, both sides opting to settle, but the MP3Tunes cases, opens a new chapter in copyright enforcement. In the recent past, the safe harbor afforded to online providers was thought to afford ample protection to copyright infringement cases. The rule of thumb was that if a site was abiding by the DMCA Takedown system, then it was safe. That is, if a site was taking down material once informed by a copyright holder of an infringement, then all was OK.

That practice was upended by the Federal Court Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that ruled in 2012 that something less than a DMCA Takedown notice could trigger liability. “Willful blindness” to copyright infringement on the part of a internet service provider, it was ruled, could trigger legal liability as well. The court ruled on Wednesday that it was “willful blindness” that established liability in the MP3Tunes case.

The MP3Tunes case holds powerful implications for other cases and the liability of internet services providers in general. As a result of this case Kim Dotcom may be getting sweaty palms as he awaits extradition from his New Zealand manse. His defense of “ignorance” looks to be on incredibly shaky ground.

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