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Dalton Caldwell, founder of the little-known social network and media sharing site iMeem, is in the news because Warner Music has dropped a copyright suit against his company Instead, Warner has granted Caldwell's users free access to the label's entire music catalog in exchange for a portion of iMeem's advertising revenue. Caldwell may not be the most powerful social-network CEO, but he's certainly the scrappiest, and this is just the latest example in his history of responding well to adversity. You could learn a lesson from him Or five lessons, actually:

  • 1. Your main business becomes legally problematic, as iMeem's file-sharing service did after a landmark case? Stay low profile — in iMeem's case, by recasting itself as a messaging network and warn users to uphold copyrights.
  • 2. Desktop peer-to-peer applications go out of style? Migrate your site's functionality to the Web.
  • 3. MySpace permanently bans your widgets? The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Caldwell's response? Build a Facebook application.
  • 4. Your growth rate draws the attention of copyright owners? Make a deal for appearance's sake with Snocap to collect and distribute ad revenue to the artists. (Don't worry if the majors do not sign.)
  • 5. A big media company sues you? Turn that legal frown upside down into a business-development smiley face. Instead of fighting it out in court, strike a deal.

Caldwell's willingness to bend but not break has kept iMeem afloat as it grew to a reported 16 million active users. The social-networking landscape iMeem competes in remains filled with also-rans who weren't as flexible. Caldwell's tenacity stands out as an example to any startup faced with threat after deadly threat.