Is Apple Willing To Challenge Label's Claims That Streaming Purchased Music Needs A License?

from the that-would-be-nice dept

For well over a decade, the major record labels have done everything possible to fight the concept of personal music lockers. This never made much sense to me, as these lockers were designed to give people who actually had purchased music more ways to listen to that music. That is, it made the label's music more valuable. You would, normally, think that this is a good thing that the labels would encourage. But, these are the major record labels we're talking about here. All they seemed concerned with is making sure that any time you get more value out of music, that you pay more. They claim, with somewhat dubious legal logic, that streaming music that someone has legally purchased still requires a separate license. That is, if you use a music locker to store MP3 files that you actually paid for from an authorized source like iTunes or Amazon, and then put them into a music locker and stream them, the labels want to get paid again.

Michael Robertson, who runs just such a music locker company, MP3Tunes, notes that Apple appears to be quietly enabling this feature without making a big deal of it, perhaps because of ongoing negotiations with music labels over the widely rumored "iTunes-in-the-cloud" service. The newly enabled offering isn't iTunes-in-the-clouds, but does allow some basic music streaming functionality for users who have music files stored on an iDisk account. This seems perfectly reasonable, of course. It's your music, and your storage locker -- why shouldn't you be able to stream it without involving the record label?

The labels, particularly Universal Music, apparently disagree:
One company sure to be miffed at this new capability is Universal Music Group (UMG) the world's largest music company. They have told net companies who have inquired about offering personal cloud music services that backing up and downloading music files is OK with limitations, but streaming music files requires entering into a license and paying a per stream fee. Apple's service allows unlimited sharing (no username or password required) and now background streaming - all without a license from the record labels.
As Robertson notes, this is Apple "testing the limits" of what they can do before the labels freak out (expect that shortly). However, the question really is how far will Apple go to fight this issue with the labels. In the past, Apple has seemed perfectly willing to cave to certain aspects of record label demands in an attempt to harm Apple's own competitors -- and I could see the same thing happening here as well. Even if Apple doesn't want to pay per-stream fees to the labels for previously purchased music, it might realize that it's still better situated than competitors. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't have much of a reason to fight for consumer rights in this scenario, even if it's testing the boundaries quietly.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    crade (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    I wonder why the people who make SD cards don't ask for more money from everyone every time there is a new device that can read SD cards. Aren't they losing money because people can use their SD cards in Camera's *and* computers now? I mean, when they bought the card, they only paid for the right to use it in computers right?

     

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    Phoenix, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 3:31pm

    It's MY music so it's MY business what I do with it!

    This is utter Bullshit.

    When I purchase my music, I don't sign a EULA agreeing that I can only play it on certain devices. Streaming to yourself – or even to yourself and a couple of friends – is not public use.

    Tell me this - what constitutes 'streaming', and what are the boundaries? Do the the laws refer to specific distances? Specific network protocols? No, I don't think so.

    Does Universal want a fee when I play music from MY PC to devices across MY personal wifi network? How is that different from playing music from MY Locker to MY devices?

    Michael Robertson - Keep going! Fart in their general direction!

    Apple - Ignore them.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:07am

      Re: It's MY music so it's MY business what I do with it!

      "When I purchase my music, I don't sign a EULA agreeing that I can only play it on certain devices. Streaming to yourself – or even to yourself and a couple of friends – is not public use."

      The record labels are failing. This is a pure and simple money grab. They will continue to push the limits charging people for every conceivable thing until the entire system they are pushing towards becomes so big a rats nest that no one can navigate their terms and conditions. At which point they will fail in a very rapid manor. Its called catastrophic failure look it up.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    "Apple has seemed perfectly willing to cave to certain aspects of record label demands in an attempt to harm Apple's own competitors -- and I could see the same thing happening here as well. Even if Apple doesn't want to pay per-stream fees to the labels for previously purchased music, it might realize that it's still better situated than competitors. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't have much of a reason to fight for consumer rights in this scenario, even if it's testing the boundaries quietly."

    Apple will only fight to protect its income. If Apple can make more money from streaming then they will fight for it - otherwise bye-bye streaming.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Home streaming solution.

    DVDFlow 2 - It is a streaming solution created by NiN^_^NiN and posted on the VLC forums for free, made completely in HTML, it make it easy to stream video to your friends and family so you can watch anything anywhere. The creator stated in the other post were he launched the DVDFlow that he was devising a method so his parents and girlfriend could access video from anywhere.

    http://forum.videolan.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=65933&p=219644&hilit=dvd+bro wser&sid=85b7730153a97cbba6362ab2fa90a6e9#p219644

    People creating streaming solutions for their families are criminals LoL

    Who knew?

     

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    Jay (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:34pm

    Another scenario...

    Here's my question... What happens with the PROs in this situation?

    I know that they track streaming, but would the cloud service actually require ANOTHER fee to pay them to pay the artists?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:28pm

    I want to see someone getting kick out of the internet for streaming his own bought media, or being dragged to court because he streamed media he bought legally that would be priceless.

    Then I want to see people try to defend copywrong and say those people were stealing from the holder of the copyrights(not necessarily the same as the producer).

    The only band of thieves I see is the labels(and their associates), encroaching on peoples private lifes and trying to expand copyright even further than the ridiculous amount they already got.

     

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    Michael Birnholz, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:40pm

    The Music Business

    Try to imagine you are a Mom and Pop store on Main Street America selling donuts. Every day, half your customers come in and decide not to pay and walk out. You call the police but they hang up on you and say 'but it is just a donut, who cares'. Well the music industry has been experiencing this ever since Napster popularized file 'sharing'.

    I agree entirely with the idea of music lockers and streaming of music. There are ways for all parties to be happy. The key is getting everyone into a room to discuss it. That is the hard part.

    With that being said, my music software company is attempting to do just that.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:16pm

      Re: The Music Business

      I cannot, donnuts have substance, flavour, I can feel it, I can touch it, I can see it, I can measure it, music on the other hand have none of those attributes maybe the feel, but it can't be measured, it can't be seen, it can't be touched, more it can't be stolen either.

      People don't go out and take music CD's from the shelves, they are not stealing anything maybe limiting the market for sales but by no means preventing sales from being made that is just a falsehood spouted by some to make their views look good.

      The one thing I agree is that there is a way for everyone to be happy

      - Disband collection societies or make them produce a list that anyone can check.
      - End the "possible damages" mentality and stop the F. levies.
      - Give copywrong the right length of time i.e. 5 years or end copyrights.
      - Make those rights not transferable.
      - As have been noted many times people abuse copyrights, they need to be admonished or punished I think a 3 strikes would be great.
      - Draw a line between commercial and non-commercial uses. Sharing was not piracy, never was and never will be stop trying to make it so. If sharing is killing music explain why people keep producing more and more and gasp getting paid, maybe is because there are multiple venues an artist can capitalize his talent i.e. multiple streams revenues. which is more than normal people get.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:24pm

      Re: The Music Business

      Universal Music Group is mom and pop business now?
      Wow! just wow!

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:12am

        Re: Re: The Music Business

        "Universal Music Group is mom and pop business now?"

        I think he is predicting the future. You know 10 years down the line when any mom and pop store has a larger Market Cap than UMG.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:10am

      Re: The Music Business

      If I buy an MP3 from Amazon, then I store that MP3 on a server that is connected to the internet, then I stream that file to my computer, I have not stolen anything. That is a case where I paid for the music and I am using ti how I see fit. Why should I pay again every time I listen?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:06am

      Re: The Music Business

      NO, Michael Birnholz, this is if you bought a box of donuts, sat down at the table and split them with the family that the owner of the bakery came over the counter and demanded you to pay for each donut again, separately.....and God Forbid if you actually split a donut in half to feed to a bird.

       

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      Phoenix, Aug 15th, 2010 @ 3:32pm

      Re: The Music Business

      Bad analogy. Your analogy applies to illegal file sharing, which this is not about.

      A correct version of your analogy would be to say that I purchased a donut but the seller wants to charge me more if I consume the donut in my car instead of in my kitchen.

       

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    Matt (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 2:23am

    When you buy a song off iTunes, the license says you can have it on up to 3 (or 5, can't remember which) devices. Does the music locker not count as a device which you are legally alowed to put it on as part of the license?

     

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    Ozge Ergen (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 2:35am

    Major labels are calling for subscription fees

    Addition to UMG's perspective I want to add another comment from a major label executive:

    "...if a service can verify that a user has purchased a song (i.e. The service is Apple and they know the track was purchased through iTunes), then they should allow that song to be used on multiple devices. If a service can not verify that a song was purchased, a consumer should be charged a monthly fee, shared with labels, for multi-platform access."

    I wrote my masters thesis on cloud music services and this is what I got from a personal interview question on the meaning of a streaming of single purchases.

    I believe that majors are after subscription fees and if Apple was to limit its cloud service to legally purchased songs it wouldn't be having so much of a trouble with licenses.

    Also if you are interested in the subject, check out my blog: http://musicinthecloud.tumblr.com

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:22am

      Re: Major labels are calling for subscription fees

      Did your thesis cover Creative Commons music in the cloud also?

       

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      Phoenix, Aug 15th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Major labels are calling for subscription fees

      I have no problem with this idea, but how do I verify that I paid for the DVD that I ripped my songs from? If the music industry can't provide a means of doing this verification, that doesn't automatically mean that I therefore must pay to be able to listen to it as I see fit without paying extra.

       

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    Brian, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    Cloud Service

    AudioGalaxy (remember them?) has released an iPod/iPhone app that lets you stream your music collection directly to your device from your HOME. This gets around the logistics of having a "cloud" copy of your MP3s. Certainly you should be able to stream your own content to your own device, no?

     

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      Phoenix, Aug 15th, 2010 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Cloud Service

      My Cloud locker is also my own device, except I rent it, I don't buy it. How I pay for my devices is none of the labels business.

      I'm not a scumbag who is ripping off music. I BOUGHT it and I WILL play it ANY way I want.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    If I want to use stream broadcasting software and broadcast the music I own to a streaming server for my own use, then I will do it and they can jam their jam where the sun don't shine.
    I am using my computer (my property) to send my music (I paid for it) using the internet line I pay for (monthly fees), to a streaming server (I pay for that service too) so I can listen to my music anywhere on any of my devices (which I also bought) and have to pay for the internet service to be able to use.
    If they think they can add more fees to stuff I already pay way too much for then I can read the label on the CD's I buy and if I see UMG or any other G I won't buy it. They can bite me.

     

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    Tim Myles, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Streaming vs. Downloading

    I'm intrigued by this line:
    backing up and downloading music files is OK with limitations

    What happens if someone comes up with a device that downloads the entire song before playing? You get a quick enough connection and you can download the file in what, 15-30 secs? If the player is continuously downloading the playlist in the background, you would have seamless playing of files after a short wait.
    Now I know that the argument here shouldn't be around streaming vs downloading being legal or not, but if you take this to the hypothetical end, we're simply waiting for 10G or something like that when you can download a 3MB music file in 0.5 second and then the argument is irrelevant - you're not streaming, you're just copying files you've purchased legally from some cloud storage and then playing them. I'd like to know what the industry would say to that!

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Unlimited sharing?

    Apple's service allows unlimited sharing (no username or password required)

    Is this really accurate? So you can pass out a URL or something to your iDisk locker, and anybody can access the music (or whatever) you have on there? Of *course* the labels would freak out about that.

     

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      Matt (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 11:06am

      Re: Unlimited sharing?

      Apple's service allows unlimited sharing (no username or password required)
      No this is not true, unless converted iTunes files require authorization using the username and password of the purchaser, this can only be done on 3 (or 5 can't remember) devices

       

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    hashme, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

    Seems like we never get what we really need...

    SimplifyMedia... aquired by Google... closed June 30.

    Lala... aquired by Apple... closed May 31.

    Guess I better get a MyTunesRSS license. Nobody can close anything once I have the application since I have to run my own server. I have to keep it running but at least I am in control of what happens to my personal music server.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    People don't go out and take music CD's from the shelves, they are not stealing anything maybe limiting the market for sales but by no means preventing sales from being made that is just a falsehood spouted by some to make their views look good.

    This is the line of crap spouted by people who want to feel better about being a thief, you didn't want to pay for it, but you wanted the content Same difference, take cd off shelve or d/l a copy, its still theft, your depriving someone of being paid for what they did, and don't lie and say no, I go buy the CD after I d/l the one song out of 20 on the CD I liked, I don't believe you

     

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