Amazon Launches Digital Music Locker, Even As Legality Is Still In Question

from the did-they-obtain-licenses? dept

Well, this could get interesting. While there are already a few digital music lockers on the market -- including services like MP3Tunes and MeCanto -- there's been plenty of talk over the past few months about the "big players" entering the market. Most of the focus has been on both Apple (which bought and shut down the music locker service Lala) and Google, but Amazon beat both companies to the starting line and launched its service a few hours ago.

The question that's most interesting to me is whether or not it's paying for licenses, and at this point, it's unclear. We've seen, for example, that the record labels are not happy about these services, with EMI in a legal fight with MP3Tunes. On top of that record labels are demanding additional fees and licenses, even though these lockers only allow people to store and stream music they already have. Whether or not Amazon paid any licenses is unclear. The News.com article linked above says "as of last week the online retailer giant had not obtained all the necessary licenses, but that Amazon might announce the service before all the negotiations were complete."

But here's my question: what necessary licenses? Why should anyone else have to pay a license to let me store and stream my own music? Update: Hypebot has more, saying that Amazon doesn't believe it needs licenses, and some of the labels (but not all) are upset. Specifically, Warner Music is pissed and is contemplating legal action, but other labels aren't quite as upset.

As for Amazon's actual service, I have no idea if it's compelling, but I will say it's rather silly and pointless that they're making me reupload music. I already have an Amazon S3 account which (among other things) I use to backup all of my (yes, legal and authorized) music. What would be great is if I could just point this new Amazon Cloud Player at my existing music that is already stored on Amazon's servers, and then stream it from there. But that does not appear to be an option. Instead, I would need to reload all of it (and since I have a lot more than 5 gigs of music, I'd have to pay multiple times for it. And, with anyone else launching a similar service, I'd probably have to upload it again and again.

Let's be honest here: that's not really a cloud service. A true cloud service would let me store my music wherever I wanted, and then point whatever streaming player I wanted at it... But, of course, I'm sure the record labels would want another bunch of licenses paid up in full before anything like that is ever allowed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 3:29am

    "...I have a lot more than 5 gigs of music..."

    Queue TAM calling Mike a pirate.

    I mean, nobody would ever pay for THAT much music, right?

    http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20031031&mode=classic

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 3:53am

    Quote:
    But here's my question: what necessary licenses? Why should anyone else have to pay a license to let me store and stream my own music?


    Good question.

    But I have another one, what do they offer that I can't do it myself?

    I sure can put up a server in my home and stream whatever I want to any equipment I want, why would I pay to have less functionality?

    Another question, why I can share music with a friend in my house but I cannot share that online with him? that doesn't seem right does it?

    This seems like the kind of arbitrary rule that is just asking to be ignored by the masses.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:08am

      Re:

      "Another question, why I can share music with a friend in my house but I cannot share that online with him?"

      I think the rationale of copyright supporters is that it's ok to "share", as long as there is a loser, meaning, it's ok that you lend (and, therefore, lose access to your copy) your CDs or books to friends and family, but it is not ok if you make copies for them. If you want new copies, you must pay someone (the rights holder) to make you a copy.

      Basically, in a nutshell, this system requires that you always pay someone (that holds the magical copyright) to make you a copy. My opinion is that there are a few wasted steps here, but I better pipe down or someone will blast with a barrage of insults me for "supporting piracy".

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:11am

        Re: Re:

        "...or someone will blast with a barrage of insults me..."

        Should have been:

        ...or someone will blast me with a barrage of insults...

         

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        Togashi, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:54pm

        Re: Re:

        What if I share my music with friends by having them come over and chill while we listen to a whole album? There's no loser there, but my friends hear all the music without paying a cent, and if they try to make that illegal they'll have a full-blown riot on their hands.

         

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        Karl (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:39pm

        Re: Re:

        I think the rationale of copyright supporters is that it's ok to "share", as long as there is a loser, meaning, it's ok that you lend (and, therefore, lose access to your copy) your CDs or books to friends and family, but it is not ok if you make copies for them.

        No offense, but if this is their rationale, it's a completely laughable one.

        Long before the creation of the Internet, fans of music were making "mix tapes" for each other. This was not a situation where the original consumer loses access to their copy.

        And, of course, it was attacked by the record industry as vehemently as possible. But when all the dust had settled, the music industry eventually realized that making mixtapes helped music sales.

        Who knows if they will decide that this time around (or even have the chance to before they fold). But strictly speaking, your opinion doesn't hold water.

        Obviously, you're a freetard that supports piracy. LOL!

        (not pictured: sarc marks)

         

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          Adam (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          We have a 'you must be a pirate' tax on blank CDs in Canada because the government listened to the music industry's whines about pretty much this exact thing. We have a similar tax on blank tapes (or we did, I'm not sure if we still do).

           

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    John Doe, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 4:08am

    I hope they didn't pay any license fees

    I hope Amazon fights the good fight and doesn't pay any fees to the labels for this. I imagine court costs and lawyer fees will be a good deal cheaper than licensing. Once they start down that road, it will only get worse and worse.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:36am

      Re: I hope they didn't pay any license fees

      "Once they start down that road, it will only get worse and worse."

      They always do want more, and when something is successful doubly so.

       

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      Togashi, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:58pm

      Re:

      I'm sure they can. There will always be people who would rather pay someone else to set things up for them even if they could do it themselves for cheaper, or even free.

       

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      Karl (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:28pm

      Re:

      Can they compete with that?

      Absolutely they can. Remember, every single movie on Netflix can be downloaded for free. But Netflix still makes money. Quite a lot of it, in fact, and completely legally.

      Offer users a service that they value, and they will pay for it.

       

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    senshikaze (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 4:30am

    and.... as a linux user I can't upload using the music player(win and OSX only, obviously), and the cloud storage flash app crashes in chrome.

    this is 2011, right? I didn't magically get transported to 2001, right? I'm allowed to use whatever OS I see fit, right? Right?! Obviously not in amazon's world.

     

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      Chris ODonnell (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 4:55am

      Re:

      Amazon is actually pretty good about supporting Linux. There is a Linux client for downloader app, and I've never had any problem accessing S3 from Linux. I imagine a decent Linux client will come available shortly.

       

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        senshikaze (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:01am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, I know. This seemed like something that shouldn't be a problem. HTML is HTML, Flash is Flash.

         

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          Karl (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          HTML is HTML, Flash is Flash.

          Try Gnash. It's actually better than Flash, once you get it running (no small feat). Rob Savoy, main developer, was actually given an award at the last Libre Planet for
          Gnash.

           

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:00am

    Here's another issue...

    In addition to what Mike pointed out about purchased music at Amazon not being already available in the cloud, here's what gets me about cloud-based services: upload speed.

    I'm not sure about other cable companies, but I pay for a mid-tier package whose upload speed is capped around 256K/sec. Even if it hits that, how much time would it take to upload several gigs of music? I've had issues with timeouts just uploading single tracks to my blog, much less several hundred files at a time. So some of my hesistancy to use this (along with various cloud-based backup services) is simply logistics.

    (Aside: will this post get trolled despite the fact it deals with legally purchased music? It seems it might, simply because someone's always looking out for additional licensing fees. Speaking of which, if you stream your music over at a friend's house, are you now liable for public performance fees?)

     

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    CharlieM (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:08am

    Seriouslly Mike? The $?

    Mike, while I agree that uploading +5 gigs of music, to an otherwise unproven service (although I wouldn't say Amazon is a fly-by-night operation) is a pain, and all your music should be "grandfathered" in... but how can you complain about the price? First 5 gigs free and another 20 gigs added if you buy a single album?

    Maybe the prices are a bit high (I'm not to familiar with cloud computing/space costs), but they seem very reasonable.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:17am

      Re: Seriouslly Mike? The $?

      This is just my opinion, but for the price of an album, I could probably get a lot more gigs, and carry them in my pocket. In fact, for the price of an album + a few gallons of coffee, I could probably even slap that into a mini server of mine.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:21am

      Re: Seriouslly Mike? The $?

      5 gigs isn't a lot of music. It seems Amazon could've done better than this.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Seriouslly Mike? The $?

      Mike, while I agree that uploading +5 gigs of music, to an otherwise unproven service (although I wouldn't say Amazon is a fly-by-night operation) is a pain, and all your music should be "grandfathered" in... but how can you complain about the price? First 5 gigs free and another 20 gigs added if you buy a single album?

      I don't believe I complained about the price anywhere. My only complaint was in the idea that I might need to pay twice. I'm already paying for my S3 storage.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:09am

    Amazon's cloud isn't secure anyway

    We (people who run networks and look at the traffic coming from other networks) know this, because we see non-stop abuse coming from it. As everyone of sufficient expertise knows, that's a surface indicator of serious underlying security issues. Now...just WHAT those issues are, I can't say, because I'm not inside their cloud -- but in one sense it doesn't matter: they're clearly systemic and sustained. And that's bad. Very bad.

    So Amazon, rather than launching another service on its platform, should be focused on fixing the glaringly obvious problems with their infrastructure.

     

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    AltaVoz (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:30am

    Let's just call this out for the BS that it is.....

    There are number of very large companies that are right now skirting the streaming royalty requirements, that while we many not like them, they are being applied to consumers and I have to ask how is it possible that these mega companies escape any legal actions.

    Buy Indie Support Locals

     

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    V, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:14am

    Why?

    Why would the music industry want to charge you just ONCE for a product... when they can charge you (and others) for the SAME product... MULTIPLE TIMES.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:26am

    We've seen, for example, that the record labels are not happy about these services

    They aren't happy with anything that makes listening to music easier for consumers. If it was up to them, we'd still be spinning 33.3 RPM records that wore out in a year or two.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:26am

    Didn't lala.com do this?

    Before Apple bought it, lala.com did something very similar. They would let you buy songs for .10, but only for streaming via the web from the site. However, they also had a tool that you could point to your local library and make all songs you have available for streaming from their website (provided the song was also available for sale). No uploading required, all you had to do was show it a local copy of the music file and if it recognized the song, you could stream it.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    But also, interestingly.. The 'Recording Industry' is starting to become the new Synonym for 'those that don't like change' or maybe 'technophobes'.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    Only criminals use Ampache to stream music to anywhere, anytime.

    Quote:
    Ampache's goal is to allow access to a person's music from anywhere in the world. It is written specifically for private / small group implementations, but does allow an admin to enable public registration. Ampache's primary objective is to maintain a simple, secure and fast web front end that will run on almost any hardware and any platform that supports PHP. It is also written to accommodate music collections in excess of 2 Terabytes. The largest known Ampache instance was in excess of 3 Terabytes of music.


    Yep only criminals.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:50am

      Re:

      Hang on, 3 TB? That's clearly the size ov every song ever released int he 20th and 21st Centuries. We're doomed! DOOMED! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

       

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      I've also used Subsonic in the past, which is a great open-source media streamer.

       

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      Rikuo (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:07am

      Re:

      What if you actually do have someone who paid for terabytes of music? Should they be labelled a criminal?
      I was just reminded of a youtube video I saw one day a while ago, of a guy who built a literal home cinema in his well...home. Cost him thousands, and he also had a separate room for his collection of about 2,000 DVDs and Blu-rays. However, what pissed him off was that even though he had paid for the movies, he wasn't allowed to rip them onto a hard drive on a computer in one room and wirelessly stream them to the projector. His "licences" didn't allow that, and he had legally purchased all these movies.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:02am

    Amazon had a "digital locker" already.

    Amazon S3 and Amazon streaming service already exist, cost next to nothing to use, and give you password timed locking HTTPS URLs so only you can get your music.

    Now the're making the service user friendly. (Kinda a shocker really)

    Amazon S3 Devs have even said they cant look inside your locker and see your files. As such you can put anything you want from streaming FLV's to MP3's to direct download WMV's.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:06am

    Pretty soon we'll 'need' a streaming license to send music over the wire connecting our music players to our headphones.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:11am

    I don't see encryption or privacy being concerns to them.
    What happens if someone decides to drag you into a police station and ask you for all the receipts for the music they find there would anybody be able to produce them?

    Store other data in there?
    Only if I'm able to encrypt it all into some form of encrypted filesystem first like a mix of GMailFS and StegFS but for that, but it doesn't encrypt the connection to it and it also does not say what the backup policies are, I'm thinking major catastrophe here, if an earthquake hits their servers would my data be safe?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    Wow it would take forever to upload even with my 2 meg upload. You can not upload folders it seems and all my music is sorted by artist/album. I think I'll keep using audiogalaxy for streaming to my Android phone and my server for other access.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:37am

    How is this different than basic web hosting? Besides the fact that most web hosts probably have some legal document that prevents this sort of thing, what is to stop a photographer from demanding royalties for every HTTP GET of their photos *on their own website* from the web host? (label logic implied)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    Mike, the service you wish you had (streaming to multiple devices, anywhere anytime) is something that is likely only to happen when some sort of rights management system is in play. There has to be a simple way for the material to be marked for your use, and to be transmitted to a location for use on a device that you own or control.

    What you want is technically easy, but with so much potential for abuse (it could pretty much become the easiest way to pirate) that right holders aren't running to get there.

    What you are more likely to see is the "microsoft cloud" that appears on their ads (but isn't all that real) which would allow you to remotely get to your music, but at the cost of bandwidth. Third party storage solutions are nice, but active third party processing may be going past whatever "fair use" rights you might have.

    I am thinking in this case that Amazon may be rushing to get into the business only to close it, agreeing with the labels and setting a standard that heads off other attempts to go to "single copy" locker solutions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    i tried this this morning. the best feature is that stuff you buy from amazon is automatically put in there (and it doesn't take away from initial 5 gigs)

    so it lets you re-download purchase. makes it much better.

    that and i got miles davis for $3 and streamed it to my phone.

     

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    Zangetsu (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    Amazon is asking to be sued

    If the digital music locker was as legal as Amazon would like people to believe, why is it only available in the U.S.? While I personally see no issue with it (after all, isn't my music mine?) I see this as Amazon baiting the RIAA and asking to be sued. I have no doubt that Amazon lawyers have already prepared their arguments as to why this is legal.
    Does this mean that music purchased through Amazon will become more expensive as the recording industry "penalizes" Amazon for introducing a business model from which they are not getting their "fair share"?

     

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    brianx, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Amazon will probably license it

    They'll license the ability to stream the music for an obscene amount of money and that will become the standard, thus keeping the smaller companies from competing with them.

     

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    Sun, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    I could see this changing to only streaming mp3s you bought on amazon. Let's hope for better though

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    MP3.com

    Is it just me, or does this sound a bit like the scheme which was MP3.com's downfall?

     

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    Blatant Coward (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    So what if the music has a political view that Jeff Bezos does not agree with, such as songs of Wikileaks Solidarity, or songs that a government finds offensive, propagandistic, coercive, inciting of rebellion and such.
    Would they do to your tunes like they did to wikileaks and just make them vanish?

     

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