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Amazon Insists No Licenses Needed For Cloud Player, Google Thinking Of Skipping Licenses As Well

from the floodgates,-openning dept

When Amazon launched its cloud music streaming service a few weeks ago, the big question concerned whether or not it needed licenses to do so. It certainly did not have them. And there's a strong argument that it doesn't need them. After all, it was just letting people take music files they already had, and allowing them to store and stream them from the internet. Why should it require an extra license to let people listen to music they already have? However, we did worry that Amazon would simply cave in, rather than fight, as it wanted to remain on good terms with the record labels.

Perhaps that's not the case, however. Amazon has sent a letter to the record labels, once again reiterating that it does not believe it needs licenses. On top of that, it points out that, so far, the Cloud Drive appears to be driving more sales of MP3s.
Cloud Drive is a general online storage service for all digital files, not unlike Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive and any number of other internet file back-up services. It’s your external hard-drive in the cloud. It requires a license from content owners no more than those other internet file back-up services do and no more than makers of external hard drives for PCs do.

Cloud Player is a media management and play-back application not unlike Windows Media Player and any number of other media management applications that let customers manage and play their music. It requires a license from content owners no more than those applications do.

It really is that simple.
Nice to see Amazon taking a stand here. Hopefully it keeps up.

At the same time, it appears that Google may be inspired by Amazon's decision here to stand up against the idea that licenses are needed for digital lockers. While it had been trying to negotiate licenses, rumors are coming out that it's fed up with ridiculous demands from the labels and ready to follow Amazon's lead in just offering up the service without any licenses.

Not surprisingly, the report names Warner Music as being the party that has been the worst to deal with in these negotiations. That fits with what we've heard from other negotiations, where Warner Music puts absolutely ridiculous deal terms on the table and refuses to budge. It would be nice if Google follows Amazon's lead and calls the labels' bluff on the idea that licenses are needed for this kind of service.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 9:58am

    As long as the files are only accessible and streamable by the account holder, I see absolutely no reason to require a license. If they were to allow sharing of files or streams, then yes I could see a reason to license. But that is not what this is.

    I think I may have to take advantage of this service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:04am

    I don't know what the big 4 are expecting to get out of not adjusting to the new reality that's being created day by day.

     

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  3.  
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    John Doe, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Hot diggity!

    Finally, a big firm willing to stand up for not only what is right but what is legal. If they start down the road of licensing, they will be put out of business by the media companies.

     

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  4.  
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    Wesley, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Our Powers Combined!!

    Yeah...I don't really think the music labels would want to start a case that will involve both Amazon and Google on the same team. Beating up on the little guys seem to be more their game.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:16am

    So it seems that the result of the hardliner stance on music licenses by labels has born a fruit that wasn't intended: legitimate businesses getting fed up and ignoring them.

    Yeah, I suspect that they work towards a compromise in the end, but it's a sign that they need to change their tune.

     

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  6.  
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    John Doe, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:18am

    Re: Hot diggity!

    This could be the beginning of the end to at least some of the stronghold that the big media firms have on content. The biggest reason I don't buy digital content is because I won't truly own it. I will remain on the sidelines until the media companies let go of the content. There would be rioting on the streets if makers of physical goods tried to exercise the control over the good after the sale. No way we would allow automakers to tell us when/where/how we could use our autos so why do we let movie and music producers?

     

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  7.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    "As long as the files are only accessible and streamable by the account holder..."

    What about external hard drives and thumb drives? You can certainly share such drives with friends. And if it was on a network, it again could shared.

    Should WD obtain licenses or should hard drives be locked down with DRM so only one person can access it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    The labels don't know what they want and thats the problem. They have no vision for the future, no plan, no actual design to implement. They are floundering around striking out at everyone and everything that fails to follow some weird delusional industry defined concensus.

    100 years of experience, going about business as usual, attacking everything new, has shown them that they have always "succeeded" in the past. But the reality was that they never succeeded, they never faced competition, and all their lobbying amounted to a naught. They were a monopoly ...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    "It really is that simple."

    The 5 five words that launched a thousand lawsuits...

     

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  10.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Hot diggity!

    "There would be rioting on the streets if makers of physical goods tried to exercise the control over the good after the sale."

    One word ... SONY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    ts, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:40am

    fair use?

    If storing your legally purchased music in a private online "locker" and streaming it to your own devices is not fair use, then I don't know what is.

    And where do you draw the line? What if I have a collection of mp3s that I bought legally online, and they happen to be stored on my personal web server that only I can access? What's the difference between that and paying Google or Amazon for cheap storage in the cloud?

    To be fair, Google and Amazon (and other companies offering similar services) should be responsible for securing the licensed content they're storing, and I could totally see them being required to have an independent auditor check things out.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:44am

    The sad part...

    ...is that there's a business opportunity here. Since a lot of people tag their mp3s (or they are purchased from amazon which have tags), the record companies could work with Amazon to provide licenses for those files. Not for the person uploading them, but rather so that you could browse someone else's locker (if the person wants it's browsable), listen to a snippet of the song, and then get a copy of it if you want to pay for it. Hell, kick the locker's owner a few cents like with the affiliate program as well.

     

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  13.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Where do we send support?

    What I want to know is, where can I go to publicly show my support? I mean, I can continue to buy from Amazon, but they don't know that I'm buying from them because I support this move. Nor would anyone else. Maybe we should start on online petition to show Amazon (and the labels) how much we support Amazon (and maybe Google) in this move.

    Does anyone have a recommended petition site for this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re: The sad part...

    Might work, but I doubt it. Personally, I always change the metadata on my music files. I strip out the unneeded crap, make sure the title and name are capitalized correctly, give it a genre name that makes sense to me and usually add cover art for my mp3 player.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    Re: Our Powers Combined!!

    Google should pick up their pace and release sooner rather than later. If the record labels go after Amazon before Google releases, then Amazon may settle and back down, giving more negotiating powers over Google to the labels. However, if they release now, they can indeed combine their powers to fight. Though, without any contender in the ring yet, Google may be reticent about fighting along side Amazon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    A simple idea ....

    Warner Music Group (WMG) is $1.1 billion USD and they are up for sale for around $2.5 billion USD. Which in my opinion is highly overpriced for a company in a failing industry. EMI, SME, and UMG can probably be bought for around a billion USD each. That having been said.

    GOOGles market cap is $184 billion USD. Apples market Cap is 306 billion USD. Amazons Market Cap is $81 Billion USD. Microsoft has a market cap of $215 Billion USD. All four of these companies face serious problems in the future from ACTA, COICA, and all the other internet crushing, laws, and treaties being pushed forward by RIAA. A simple solution would be for them to each buy a record label. Then stop all payments to RIAA.

    They could make all their money back in a matter of about a year or two. Destroy the collection societies. Most importantly they will stop all the internet crushing laws and treaties that will hobble them. Which saves them money and allows them to grow faster.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Alessar (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    Re: fair use?

    Don't call it fair use; call it what it is: appropriate consumer usage of their purchased digital property.

     

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  19.  
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    Warner Music, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re:

    Why yes! Thank you for pointing out these other untapped revenue sources, we'll have our legal team hop on it at once!

    Dewie, Cheatham & Howe
    Staff Attorneys
    Warner Music

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Atkray (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:20am

    Re: A simple idea ....

    I was jumping up and down clapping at this awesome idea when it hit me......

    What if just one of these companies bought all the labels and and formed an unholy alliance with RIAA against the others?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Jim O (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:31am

    Re: fair use?

    I did just that in 2007 with two hosting services*. I set up password protected account that I could stream from when/wherever I wanted. The hosting services both deleted all my files because they couldn't be sure that I was the only one using it.

    *Hostmonster and another that I don't recall the name of.

     

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  22.  
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    drew Roberts, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Re: A simple idea ....

    They could buy the record companies but this would not solve the collection society problems. There are multiple copyrights (related rights) on a recorded song.

    The copyright on the lyrics, the copyright on the melody, the copyright on the recording. (possibly others?)

    Just a semi educated guess here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    I see stupid people...

    This is how its gonna go...

    BigLabhel: I see your user "IrawksLOL" has a copy of "I do the Rock" by Tim Curry stored in your "locker". You need to make sure its a legal copy else we will sue you.

    Google/Amazon: LAWL

    BigLabel: Hey, Mr. Leahy, here is that 4 million for your "charity" make it happen...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    zegota (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Re: Where do we send support?

    Shoot the executive customer service an email. Couldn't hurt:

    http://consumerist.com/2006/12/email-amazons-executive-customer-service.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    zegota (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Amazon kicks so much ass. For those who don't remember, they were the ones who fought for DRM-less music, and forced iTunes to do the same. Now it's standard.

    Yes, I wish they'd do the same for their ebooks. But Amazon does a pretty great job 99% of the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:46am

    Re: A simple idea ....

    Basically Google needs to buy up the Recording Industry big4 and then do what they do best... give away the product for free to drive business to its paid for products.

    Heck I'd pay Google £10 a month for a gmail account if it came with unlimited access to music.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Simon, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re:

    They do know what they want: the same revenues as the good ol' CD price fixing days. Anything less than that and they consider they are being stolen from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    “Larry, Serge and Eric could buy the entire music industry with their personal money”.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: A simple idea ....

    "Basically Google needs to buy up the Recording Industry big4 and then do what they do best... give away the product for free to drive business to its paid for products."

    Artists contracts aside. I was thinking something along those lines. Then the word "Monopoly" echoed in my head after remembering the big four control 80% of the "label" music in the US and %70 worldwide.

    A couple cool ideas would be ...

    Free usage in YouTube Videos with no futher fear of DMCA takedowns. That would be a big music promotion tool and get google a ton of kudos.

    A one stop shop to buy the rights to music for professional tv shows and movies. Which removes the whole ego based negotiation crap the labels put you through now.

    ...

    add a few of your own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: The sad part...

    And this gives you time for a life, when? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    s0v3r1gn (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re:

    They have already decided that sharing your music files over a network is illegal, as well as sharing the thumb drive/eternal hard drive. Not that I agree, but they have already set a precedent.

    As for the "Should WD obtain licenses or should hard drives be locked down with DRM so only one person can access it?" Don't give the damn RIAA any more stupid ideas! =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Rabbit80, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    I already have software that allows me to stream music from my PC library to my phone no matter where I am - I can't see the difference!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: The sad part...

    That's what iTunes is fro. Say what you want about the software, but it's easy to edit the metadata and add an album cover to your music.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    this will, in theory, be able to stream it TO your PC and Droid phone AND iPad at6 the same time, as far as I can see. Not that you'd want to, the noise would be insane. Still, the idea is there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually it's even more than that. What they really want is a nickel every time you push play.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: The sad part...

    And this gives you time for a life, when? :)

    Old time rocker here (Rush, Queensr˙che, Journey, etc.) and my digital music library is pretty set since I really don't care too much for newer music (with a few exceptions - Rob Thomas & Melissa Etheridge to name a couple). Most of my library was ripped from my wife and I's combined CD collection.

    Actually, since I use Rythmbox in Linux as my music player on my laptop, I can change the metadata on the fly right inside my player.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The sad part...

    That would require touching an... Apple... product!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Niall (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The sad part...

    Kudos for your music tastes, and I can see how having an older, established collection could help. Still, it was more about the time issue than the how - me, I've still had no time to go through my collection and codify it so effectively. Maybe one day though...

    I like the idea of changing the metadata on the fly :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Jakomi, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    Dammed if They Do and Dammed If They Do Not

    The major labels are dammed if they do sue amazon and damned if they do not.

    The choices are: If they do sue Amazon can they afford the legal battle? EMI has been in court with MP3tunes.com/Michael Robertson over its cloud based offering for three years - with no end in sight yet. And finally Amazon's market cap is more than 4 times that of the whole music industry put together.

    If they do not launch a law suit against Amazon whats to stop Google and Apple launching their cloud music services without licenses as a precent has already been set?

    WMG's demands are ridiculous because its a drowning in debt over leveraged business where it's two head honcho's Bronfman Junior and Lyro Cohen have recklessly paid themselves increased bonuses each year whilst the company has been losing more each year. Talking about corporate recklessness. These the folks who should but up on corporate fraud charges. The industry would be all the better for it.

     

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  40.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Apr 13th, 2011 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hot diggity!

    a second word "Apple"

     

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  41.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 14th, 2011 @ 1:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The sad part...

    Meh, my soul is stained enough from all those artistic mass murders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 14th, 2011 @ 1:07am

    Re: Dammed if They Do and Dammed If They Do Not

    But...but...CAPTURE!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 14th, 2011 @ 3:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "They have already decided that sharing your music files over a network is illegal, as well as sharing the thumb drive/eternal hard drive. Not that I agree, but they have already set a precedent."

    Sharing files over a network may - in some cases - be infringement, but handling someone your thumb drive? Please cite your precedent. As long as the original owner no longer has access to the files, I think it would be ok to share - no copy has been made.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    Togashi (profile), Apr 14th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re:

    I have at least similar, if not the same, software. It will stream to as many things as I connect to it with my username and password. I even had my PC stream from itself over the internet to test it when I first set it up. Exactly the same idea as Amazon's service, except that my music is hosted on my personal machine instead of on their servers.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    People have been stealing music now longer than the CD was around before Napster. Seems you're the greedy ones that have been feeding at the trough for too long.

    If the labels are smart, they'll stop selling CDs and MP3s completely, start selling a new medium that doesn't work on computers- only on new hardware, and tell all you leeches to go pound sand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    JBDragon (profile), Apr 14th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The sad part...

    So what!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2011 @ 12:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Look up the analog hole. If it can be heard, it can be converted to digital.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_hole

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    JR Smith (profile), Apr 17th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    Re: Our Powers Combined!!

    Yep. Like 13-yr-old girls.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    JR Smith (profile), Apr 17th, 2011 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh yeah, got to keep the REAL pigs in expensive suits, Rolls cars and high-priced HOs. While they continue to cheat artists out of their due.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2011 @ 9:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You just make up lies about record labels to somehow try and justify your stealing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2012 @ 11:13am

    The need to stream

    I like music as much as the next guy.I have a portable player (it's a phone too)that fits in my pocket so I can have my music everywhere I go...I can plug in my device to any other device so I and my friends can listen to my music, anywhere anytime.
    I have all my music stored on my PC with a backup to another PC.
    In order for me to enjoy my music via the Cloud I would have to download all my music so as to be sure that any track I wanted to listen to would be there.For me it's currrently 25g.Then in order to listen I have to have a reliable connection (yeah right!)and make sure that I'm not approaching my broadband data cap.
    Then I would also have to managed my collection online using even more data.
    THEN I get to send in a fee every month to be able to do all this.
    Then I get to HOPE that the site doesn't delete my music collection because of some perceived infringement issues,or that the site is shut down for any reason.(remember Megaupload?)Oh! and don't forget the fee increases you will be expected to pay when some genius figures out how to monetized your cloud collection.
    Just how bad do you have to have all your music available on demand all the time from almost any spot on the planet.And if your busy earning a living like most of us WHEN do you have time to listen to all this music...REALLY!
    The cloud is a big joke...You get to give someone money to send your music to your device that already has your music on it!

    There's one born every minute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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