So much for felling the giants.
Michael Robertson, CEO of
, is prepared to blink. Don't get him wrong: After a federal court ruled against MP3.com's accumulation of songs in a database for its MyMP3.com service, Robertson still thinks he'd be vindicated in a higher court.
But he told a Wednesday audience at the
Chase H&Q Technology Conference
in San Francisco that MP3.com has been trying for four weeks to give up the fight. "I cannot spend three years in court," he said. "MP3.com is motivated to make a business settlement. So are the record companies."
The San Diego-based firm has built a database of recorded music by purchasing 1,000s of CDs. The service then allows its users to download the audio files from the Internet. Although the company claims that it first requires authentication that users have purchased the music by having users place the disc in their computer, the record industry maintains that the company's library violates its copyrights.
In Robertson's estimation a deal would include MP3.com offering "some sort of monetary compensation" to the record labels for the privilege of housing their songs online. In the meantime, he said MP3.com has taken the labels' songs out of its database.
Two weeks ago, a U.S. District Court ruled that MP3.com's song database violated record companies' copyrights. Robertson insists that MP3.com is developing lucrative channels for the resale of music, despite record industry protests that he's stomping on their CD revenues.
Robertson insists he can help the music industry make follow-on money on its music, repackaging it for additional sale. He regaled the audience with a model that mimics the movie industry, with a revenue stream from the box office, pay-per-view, video rental, cable TV and broadcast TV sales at decreasing rates. But he has to get them to stop suing him first.
MP3.com's record-company foes include
, and the
Universal Music Group
. MP3.com's stock price fell to 7 after the federal court ruling -- painfully below its 52-week high of 105. The stock finished Wednesday trading at 11 7/8.
Tish Williams' column takes at look at the people who make Silicon Valley tick. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, she doesn't own or short individual stocks, although she does own stock options in TheStreet.com. She also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. She breathlessly awaits your feedback at