Amazon Reverses Course, Signs Licenses With Music Labels To Allow File Matching

from the matching-offerings dept

In the spring of 2011, Amazon launched its cloud music streaming player to much fanfare, along with questions about its legal status. Amazon chose not to get licenses from the labels, saying (accurately) that since the service was just to allow individuals to upload and stream their own MP3s, there was no need to get licenses. While the labels indicated they disagreed with this assessment, none seemed willing to take on the legal fight against Amazon (or Google who initially made a similar choice). After both Amazon and Google launched their cloud offerings, Apple got attention for not doing a cloud player, but rather a matching and syncing system.

Now, Amazon has apparently decided that a similar matching system makes more sense… and has done licensing deals with the four major labels and a bunch of indies. The end result is that the streaming player is changing significantly. The free service is greatly limited, and they now want $25/year for more. If you pay, then it’ll now match as many songs as it can on your hard drive with its own database, and automatically populate your account (similar to Apple’s system). Thus, users no longer need to upload all their tracks.

Basically, Amazon bought a license to allow the matching, and then switched its whole service around to enable that (and to charge people). It’ll be interesting to see how well this works. $25 isn’t much at all, but in the year+ since Amazon’s streaming player launched, I honestly can’t remember ever hearing anyone mention using it. I’m sure there are some out there, but it never seemed that successful, so it may be a challenge to get people to pay the $25. Personally, I played around with Amazon’s player a few times, but the storage limit as compared to Google’s similar offering meant that I used Google instead. These days I tend to bounce back and forth between Spotify and Google Music, and can’t think of a reason to use Amazon’s service instead — even with the matching.

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Amazon Reverses Course, Signs Licenses With Music Labels To Allow File Matching”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Once again, modern copyright is revealed for what it really is. A anti-competitive, communist monopoly, over other peoples property. Which allows these disgusting copyright cartels (who don’t even make anything, except scam the musician’s rights away from them) to seek ‘protection’ money, and leech the life from people for the right to use their own property. They have no moral or ethical rights to force people pay those ‘fees’, they only have the threat of violence from private, and public government enforcers. This is not free market, this is not democracy.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Surely this is a classic ultra capitalist situation.

Nope, if that was true, than any competitor could enter the market and break up the monopoly. Since no competitor can legally enter the market, because they are prevented from doing so by the government through copyright, which creates an artificial monopoly…it isn’t capitalism.

If course, piracy is competition. So maybe AC is right, it isn’t “TRUE Communism”.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: It could be helpful

Didn’t Megaupload get in trouble for that? They would have the one file on their servers and when many people uploaded the same file, they would just generate new links to the one file. When asked to do a DMCA takedown, they would just takedown the links, but not the file itself (which really would have been overkill, as that file may be up there on their servers legally for at least one person).

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Any chance of people in the UK being able to use it?

The very very sad thing is, they can’t.
These multinational megacorps have created such a tangled mess of laws and collection agencies to “protect” their interests that they have successfully made it impossible.

Even if somehow all of the people running these labels all dropped dead in the morning and were replaced with people who get the simple idea that the world is just 1 marketplace now, they would face YEARS of litigation trying to dismantle the “protective” web.

And the real losers in all of this would remain consumers, who just want to buy the damn content, use the silly services, and have a good experience without tons of hassles and stumbling blocks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Any chance of people in the UK being able to use it?

You forgot to mention local content, labeling, language, and distribution laws that often make it impossible to do anything close to a global deal. It was done to protect consumers and to protect local industry, and it won’t go away any time soon.

Trust me when I say the record labels and movie companies often really hate this crap too. But they have to work like that to stay within the laws, and to mitigate risk.

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

I’m always impressed companies think “cloud” means “match data” so everything’s matched up, and not what the word stands for, which means an isolated set of data we can access anywhere in the world.


Next thing we’ll see is Amazon telling its customers they can’t use the cloud unless it can connect to your hard drive. Just like Apple does.

Ridiculous loss of a good feature.

*removes stuff from Amazon’s cloud.

It’s no longer useful to me. I can VPN into my own laptop.

Ven says:

… but in the year+ since Amazon’s streaming player launched, I honestly can’t remember ever hearing anyone mention using it.

That may be because Amazon had a compelling idea that caught people’s attention when it launched, but the implementation was crap. This is the reoccurring theme on TechDirt of ideas vs execution.

Not long after the launch I had bought an album from the Amazon MP3 store and everything worked well, at least part of my choice of purchasing it from Amazon over iTunes was the cloud player and extra storage that came with the Amazon purchase.
With all this new storage space I decided to upload a few albums I had on my computer. The first one I picked as an internet distributed compilation album. Putting aside the fact that I had to download a desktop application to upload files to a website, the experience was mostly painless until I actually tried to use the cloud player to view my uploaded music. Amazon split the album (equivalent of 2CDs) into 18 different albums, some with only 1 track. It didn’t seem to have any rational reason for how it made the splits, tracks by the same artist were split into different albums, etc. iTunes didn’t have the same issue when it imported the album into its library. And to make matters just a little worse Amazon’s cloud player didn’t at the time (and may still not) have a way to edit the track meta data, or reorganize the tracks into one album.

PT (profile) says:

Let’s see if I understand. For a nominal fee, I can allow a bunch of people who have a contract with the RIAA to examine and catalog everything I have on my hard disk, in exchange for which they’ll let me listen to music that I already own.

That’s like paying a representative of a gang of notorious housebreakers to come into your home, copy your keys and catalog your valuables, and in exchange they let you watch your own television.

montgoss (profile) says:

Amazon user

As Amazon was one of the (if not the) first to offer DRM-free mp3 purchases, I’ve purchased all of my music in the last several years almost exclusively through Amazon.
So, I used the Cloud Player for a while when it came out (until the bandwidth issues at my work annoyed me into just downloading all of my mp3’s). It works well with new purchases as well, since they are added instantly to your Cloud Player account (and don’t count against your space usage).

So, for someone like me, this IS actually an upgrade.

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