EFF Says Content Storage Case Threatens 'Safe Harbor'

SAN FRANCISCO — The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other public interest groups have asked a federal judge to protect "safe harbor" rules for content in the cloud.

The groups' request comes in the form as an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief relative to EMI vs. MP3Tunes, where recording giant EMI has demanded that MP3Tunes reveal its users' content.

MP3tunes, the digital music locker service created by MP3.com founder Michael Robertson, has filed a motion for summary judgment in the copyright infringement suit.

MP3Tunes' Robertson noted that the case "has enormous ramifications for the Internet industry because all the major net companies offer services which store media files."

In the federal case filed at U.S. District Court in New York, EMI claims that MP3Tunes should be held responsible for infringing content stored in the lockers of some of its users.

But MP3Tunes contends that it is immune from liability because it does not engage in, encourage or benefit from copyright infringement and it quickly removes material identified in a copyright holder's complaint against its users, as required by the safe harbor provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

MP3tunes also objects to EMI’s request because it would be both an invasion of users' personal storage and because it would create a huge technical and financial burden, with more than 300 terabytes of files in personal lockers.

The EFF, in its statement to the court, said the legal battle over Internet storage could impact and threaten the viability of both established and emerging computing technologies. It also would put a muzzle on free expression over the web.

"The DMCA safe harbors were designed to encourage the growth of new Internet innovations and expression by helping service providers manage their legal exposure, and they've been an extraordinary success," said Corynne McSherry, an EFF senior staff attorney.

"Without the safe harbor provisions, companies like YouTube, Facebook and many others could have been shut down before they got off the ground. That's not what Congress intended."

Other groups that also joined with the EFF in the amicus brief include Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Home Recording Rights Coalition.