Former MP3.com chief and Linspire CEO Michael Robertson will reenter the music world next week with MP3tunes, a service that promises music without DRM restrictions.
The announcement will be made next week at the Linspire Desktop Summit, where a new VOIP company, SwitchVox, will also be launched. Robertson’s other venture, SIPphone, will also introduce a $39 device designed to facilitate Internet calling, Robertson said.
Robertson built MP3.com into one of the premier Internet destinations for music in the late 1990s, as Napster was nearing its peak. In April 2000, however, a U.S. district court ruled that the service violated copyright law by allowing CDs to be downloaded. Robertson sold MP3.com to Vivendi Universal, who later sold it to CNET Networks. Legal MP3 downloads withered until Apple Computer resuscitated the market with its iTunes service, which offers some restrictions on copying the song using digital-rights-management techniques.
To Robertson, such restrictions are anathema. “I think [DRM] is a problem; I’ve made no bones about it,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m not a fan of DRM. I think it penalizes paying customers. If you can get music from file sharing networks and pay nothing, and then get it from the record guys with a pair of handcuffs attached…I think it’s awful.”
I could go for that.