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Feed Techdirt: This Is The New EMI? Trying To Personally Bankrupt CEOs Of Companies It Doesn't (

Last year, a private equity firm took over the major record label EMI and announced that things were going to be different. It wasn't going to be anti-fan. It was going to look on the success stories of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails not as a threat, but as an opportunity. It even threatened to leave the RIAA and the IFPI unless it pulled back on suing fans. It then went out and hired internet savvy executives who would (hopefully) contribute a different perspective to the running of a major record label.

But, in the midst of all of this, it hasn't really backed down from a variety of ridiculous lawsuits. For example, it's been a part of a lawsuit against an ISP that refuses to spy on its users and cut off those who do unauthorized file sharing. We also noted last year that it had sued Michael Robertson's startup, MP3Tunes. Now we tend to have a lot of fun accusing Robertson of having the same marketing strategy with every company he starts: piss off some established company, get sued. It seems to happen with pretty much every company he starts from to Lindows/Linspire to SIPphone. So it really wasn't a huge surprise to see MP3Tunes sued -- though, it's difficult to see how a personal music storage locker that doesn't allow sharing could possibly be infringing.

However, now it appears that the "new" more "friendly" EMI isn't just suing MP3Tunes. According to Boing Boing and Michael Robertson, it's trying to extend the lawsuit to go after Robertson personally, saying that he should be personally liable. As you probably know, one of the purposes of a corporate structure is to limit the liability of the executives of a company. To go after Robertson personally makes very little sense unless the idea is to intimidate. Many executives will quickly settle in such circumstances so as to not open themselves up to such a huge liability. On top of that, the chilling effects are tremendous. Others won't even think of starting innovative services, for fear of being personally liable in a lawsuit.

Unless EMI pulls back its lawyers, I think we can safely conclude that the "new" EMI hasn't really changed much from the old EMI.

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