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.

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Companies: amazon, google

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Comments on “Amazon Insists No Licenses Needed For Cloud Player, Google Thinking Of Skipping Licenses As Well”

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51 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: 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?

s0v3r1gn (profile) says:

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.

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

Michael (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: 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 …

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

John Doe says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

ts says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Gwiz (profile) says:

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

And this gives you time for a life, when? πŸ™‚

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.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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 πŸ™‚

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

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?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

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.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

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.

Togashi (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Jakomi (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

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