Google: Major Labels Got In The Way Of Cool Features In Google Music

from the anti-innovation dept

Earlier this morning, we wrote about the expectation that Google would be launching a music locker without first getting licenses from the labels. That's now been confirmed and officially launched (though, still limited to US users by invitation only, but it sounds like that will be expanded rapidly). I'm at the conference where Google announced this, and there's a fair bit of discussion about the legality of the service. At the press briefing afterwards, Google was clear: it was the major labels who responded with "unreasonable and unsustainable terms." They also noted that if they had abided by the terms offered by the labels, they would be offering a service that wasn't compelling. Other reports note that Google really wanted to offer some more innovative features, such as letting users "beam" music to their account by showing they had copies of it, without uploading it. At the press briefing, Google effectively admitted this by saying that it could enable that feature "with proper agreements." Separately, Google made it clear that, although the major labels were the issue, the indie labels and artists they spoke to directly were all excited about the offering. Indeed, the offering itself does appear to be a lot slicker than Amazon's music locker service, which is a bit surprising. I was expecting, in typical Google fashion, that it would appear pretty barebones, but instead it looks fairly advanced.

Separately, in another question concerning how Google would deal with the fact that some people will certainly upload tracks that were obtained through unauthorized means, Google first pointed out that the terms require people to only upload lawfully acquired music... but then also claimed that it would "respond appropriately to rightsholders who believe their rights were violated." That seems like a strange statement. I imagine it means the company will follow through on takedown requests... but how would the rightsholder ever know? If this is a private music locker, then the only person who should have access is the user. I'm kind of wondering if that statement was made just to make a "we're legal!" statement, without recognizing that such a situation doesn't seem to make much sense.

The whole major label situation is yet another example of fear driving the record labels, rather than opportunity and innovation. Again, these music lockers are really just a way to make the consumers' music experience better. It's an opportunity to make the music more valuable and to open up more opportunities for copyright holders to make money, but rather than embracing it, the labels make ridiculous demands to try to clamp down on the usefulness. So, instead, the industry moves forward in spite of their complaints, rather than with the majors.

Filed Under: copyright, licenses, music locker
Companies: google

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  1. identicon
    Anonymously Brave, 11 May 2011 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Of course it could be cooler

    The whole point of all of that is to say that Google feels compelled to cover itself from potential "inducement" accusations by clearly stating that users are only allowed to upload content to which they have a license/rights.

    However, what Mike is suggesting is that Google will have no practical way of enforcing said rule without scrutinizing the content that each user uploads, which in turn essentially violates the users' right to privacy, which in turn will get the privacy advocates up-in-arms. Mike is suggesting that Google's statement is toothless and merely a CYA tactic.

    Likewise, since the user is the only one who will presumably have access to the uploaded content, the labels will have no way to determine if any unlicensed content is uploaded, so they have no way to seek legal recourse.

    Of course, it is worth noting that in the US, it is not illegal to posess unlicensed copyrighted material, though it does equate to copyright infringement if you distribute said content without a license. Since Google's cloud service is designed to be accessible to a single user, distribution does not seem to apply.

    You might be able to argue that distribution is technically possible if a user shares login information with others, though it seems rather unlikely that anyone will be willing to open up their account information to the masses the way content is shared via P2P and torrents; therefore the kind of large scale infringement that the industry hates and fears seems impractical via this service--especially when the currently available system of torrents is so much more efficient.

    But, I digress...any reasonable person can see that Mike was simply wondering about how enforcement of such a rule would balance with privacy rights in a service such as this.

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