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Are Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player Legal?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the reply-hazy-ask-again dept.

Cloud 226

Fudge Factor 3000 writes "Earlier this year both Google and Amazon introduced cloud music storage where users could upload their music and listen to it wherever they had an internet connection. The music industry, however, was up in arms because they believed that Google and Amazon had to pay additional licensing fees for their music storage services. Tim B. Lee at Ars has written an excellent summary of the legal issues surrounding these services. His ultimate conclusion is that Google and Amazon would probably withstand any legal assaults, but it still remains a tough call."

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deja vous, anyone? (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657622)

Didn't they already try to pull this with ipods?

Sometimes it's called "shameless greed". Other times it's called "doing business".

Re:Thesis (-1, Offtopic)

xiayou (2316372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657692)

Re:Thesis (1)

kakarote (2294232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657696)

hmmmm.. yeah ur right. also this is use for thesis in future or we can say that from "NOW"

Re:Thesis (1)

xeon13 (2268514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657704)

yes we can say like this but make sour after getting you have license key for this or not.!!!???

Re:Thesis (0)

essayservices (2242884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657740)

ahmm ahmm u think people is fool.!? they already use diss..

Re:deja vous, anyone? (3, Informative)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657796)

It's not greed. It's stupidity.

They rejected every deal these services had to offer, not realizing the obvious financial advantage of having an agreement before launch. They walked, and now they have to play legal catch-up in order to ultimately get probably less than they would have gotten if they had just agreed to the worst deal.

Sigh. Someone on the negotiating team should have known that these companies feel that they could absorb whatever the costs of being sued would be and still walk away profitable. But they didn't. So they have the business sense of gnats.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (3, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657860)

Well, music is what.. a 9 billion dollar industry? After executive bonuses, executive compensation, payola, legal expenses, democratic fundraisers, chinese labor costs, marketing costs, and maybe something for the musicians, what's left for quality negotiation teams?

Frankly, the real surprising thing is that this "industry" that is, in fact, dwarfed by the net profits of each of more than a couple large corporations, gets such a disproportionate amount of press and political clout.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658120)

I wonder why Google, Amazon and Apple don't each buy out one of the major labels outright. It can't be an antitrust issue if each get one. Problem solved.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658278)

They'd actually have to use their purchase sensibly...Sony bought a record label and actually managed to sue itself.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657866)

You're not talking about Amazon and Google are you? I'd hope not. They'll come out on top in this, just watch.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657910)

They rejected every deal these services had to offer, not realizing the obvious financial advantage of having an agreement before launch.

"Rejected"? Neither Google nor Amazon sought permission. Only Apple did. And thanks to Google's and Amazon's hubris, Apple was able to negotiate a pretty sweet deal. So the real question is whether Google's and Amazon's risk will pay off. I really hope it does. It would be a great precedent for consumer's rights with what they can do with their own music, but realistically, American law doesn't exactly leave one with optimism here.

Sigh. Someone on the negotiating team should have known that these companies feel that they could absorb whatever the costs of being sued would be and still walk away profitable. But they didn't. So they have the business sense of gnats.

No, what will happen, if Google or Amazon are sued and they lose, is they have to completely shut down their service, find a new way to operate it (which doesn't seem feasible, their systems are pretty simple as it is, the user uploads their music. If that's the problem, there isn't much of a way to work around it), or enter into a licensing agreement with the studios and labels.

Apple's deal also allows them to match music so the user doesn't have to upload their music for it to be available. Google and Amazon really missed the boat here in not going for a deal. But it does make sense, the fact that they didn't seek permission may help their case if they are going to claim they don't need permission. Had they asked and not come up with a deal, it might make their position harder to defend later on.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (3, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657986)

So basically the RIAA is trying to claim that if you legally own an MP3 and legally join a service that lets you store said MP3 on a server, you are not legally allowed to play it directly from the server and must download it to your car / computer / phone / mp3 player first? Sorry, but I doubt that'll hold up in court (though with the morons we have in the "justice" system, you never know).

Re:deja vous, anyone? (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658124)

So basically the RIAA is trying to claim that if you legally own an MP3 and legally join a service that lets you store said MP3 on a server

We need to stop right there. The RIAA, if they pursue this, will make the point that that the service itself isn't legal.

It's not even clear that they, or any of the major players involved, have any plans to enter into such a lawsuit, but it's pretty much exactly what happened to MP3.com. Amazon and Google have a fairly key difference in how they work compared to how MP3.com worked, but the weakness is the same.

you are not legally allowed to play it directly from the server and must download it to your car / computer / phone / mp3 player first?

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that the copying (whether streaming or fully cached) is the part that makes it vulnerable to copyright law.

Sorry, but I doubt that'll hold up in court (though with the morons we have in the "justice" system, you never know).

Why not? That's exactly what happened to MP3.com. There is one key difference, and hopefully that's enough (ironically, there's *more* copying involved with Google's and Amazon's services than with MP3.com, but the copying is more reasonable).

Anyway, only time will tell.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658340)

"So basically the RIAA is trying to claim that if you legally own an MP3"

Stop there! You never own music, unless you made it yourself. You "rent" music by licensing certain rights to play it under certain circumstances. The whole shebang hinges on the argument that we as consumers, rent the music and so therefore a third-party should not be allowed to step in and copy the music as it wishes, as the RIAA have not explicitly granted these third-parties the right to copy that music. Apple is getting the praise and Amazon and Google could end up in court arguing for the next 5 years over this point.

I don't buy major label music anymore, I go to gigs and I buy direct from artists on their websites. Luckily I listen to miche music, death and black metal, so it's easier as a lot of it is still relatively indy and underground. When I pay I know the money, or a very large percentage, is going straight into the artists pocket and helping them make more music I like. I still don't own the music but at least I know that some greedy record exec is not eating a 5 course lunch on my money while the artist checks if he can afford a burger for lunch that day or get some new strings to play another gig that night.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (5, Insightful)

breser (16790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658304)

I don't think Google and Amazon missed the boat here at all. I'd say that Apple missed the boat.

Google and Amazon's services allow streaming. Apple's doesn't. Apple's service is just a sync. A sync that avoids the upload and requires the download.

I can't access my music collection from my work computer without downloading it there. In fact my music collection becomes only available on iPhones/iPods and through iTunes. Amazon will end up being almost entirely platform neutral because they have no dog in the platform game. Google will likely try to support the IOS platform, assuming Apple lets them. I'll admit Google's support will probably lag behind the Android support and not be as good for IOS.

How much you wanna bet me that Apple never puts anything out for Android or any other mobile platform?

Apple's entire strategy here is to extend their lock in while fixing one of the annoyances of multi-device usage with iTunes. If they succeed we all lose.

Re:deja vous, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658334)

Amazon sought permission.

Yay America! (2)

Llian (615902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657626)

Land of the Free (Ride for corporations with massive lobby groups)!

Seriously, the ONLY difference with putting it in the cloud and setting up a server in your own home to do this is the RIAA et al see this one and want their Free Lunch.

Re:Yay America! (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657710)

I do essentially the same thing from my own home server using a combination of Debian and Plex (for video). I'm a bit afraid that if they ever find out that I'm able to listen to my music and watch my movies from wherever I travel, I'll be knee-high in shite.

Re:Yay America! (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657918)

The RIAA and Co. have never sued anyone for using their own music digitally. They have sued when a third party is involved. The issue isn't that you are able to stream your music to you from your own system, or even from a web server somewhere else that you operate. The problem is that you are uploading your songs to Google or Amazon, which may very well be copyright infringement.

Or maybe it isn't. The problem is that Google and Amazon, like MP3.com before them, make an easy target. If it *is* infringement, they can have it shut down. If it's not, well, hooray for the rest of us for a change.

Strictly speaking, I don't think the way Google and Amazon operates should count as copyright infringement (even though it does involve making a copy without permission, this isn't the sort of thing that should require explicit permission IMO), and they stand a reasonable chance. However, "reasonable" isn't the first word that comes to mind regarding US copyright laws.

Re:Yay America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658284)

[QUOTE]The RIAA and Co. have never sued anyone for using their own music digitally. [/QUOTE]

They've sued the "enablers" such as Kaleidescape and Real, etc., which in turn prevents the end-user from doing exactly what you're contesting. And neither K nor Real offered any type of cloud-based service (the term - neigh, concept wasn't conceived when the DVD CCA went after these firms as a proxy of the MPAA).

Re:Yay America! (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658296)

Exactly, and Google and Amazon are the enablers, just like MP3.com before them (even though they have a key difference in how their service works compared with how MP3.com did).

Re:Yay America! (1, Offtopic)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657792)

EXACTLY THIS. How is my home media server (I have two) any different from Amazon's cloud? Answer: There IS no difference. But they're sure trying to wring every single dollar out of this they can... I guess their planned obsolescence is coming sooner than they had hoped.

The internet lets people be their own record label... and that is pissing them off to NO end. Life's hard, buy a helmet. :)

Re:Yay America! (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657930)

EXACTLY THIS. How is my home media server (I have two) any different from Amazon's cloud? Answer: There IS no difference.

The difference is you are copying the file to yourself on your own home media server. Whereas with Google and Amazon, you are copying your file to them. Whether that difference counts legally has yet to be determined, but it's a fairly important difference.

Re:Yay America! (2)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658010)

No, you are copying it to a network drive that only you can access - no different than hosting your own server or copying it to an external hard drive (or even iPod for that matter). No one is able to make copies from another person's drive, which would be copyright infringement.

Re:Yay America! (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658150)

No, you are copying it to a network drive that only you can access - no different than hosting your own server or copying it to an external hard drive (or even iPod for that matter).

The difference is who owns the drive. If you are copying it to Google's hard drive, that's quite different from copying it to your own.

No one is able to make copies from another person's drive, which would be copyright infringement.

You will be making a copy onto Google's or Amazon's drive, then making another copy from it to your device or computer.

I'm not saying this difference will necessarily alter the legality of it, that can only happen in the courts or the legislature. What I am saying is that it's a key difference that opens Google and Amazon up to attack in a way that hosting your own server does not.

The main problem is that you are looking at it as an overall impact. The overall impact is the same. It's your file, you are putting it on a service that has a space reserved for you and you alone, and you are copying back to your own device. The entire time, you are (assuming no funny business on the part of Google or Amazon, no hacking, and you aren't giving out your login information, all of which are reasonable assumptions) in control of the file, which is functionally the same as having your own server. But it's not *legally* the same.

Copyright isn't simply about being in control of the file. It's about being in control of the ability to copy the file. And it's a tough case to say you can't copy it around on your own hardware (although they have taken that very opinion at one time), it's a much easier case to say you can't copy it to third parties.

And even if personal file shares violate copyright, they are too small and too difficult to go after. On the other hand, Google and Amazon make big, easy targets.

I'm not saying I agree with this opinion. In fact, I think it's fairly asinine. But I am saying that it fits with copyright law and the way the system tends to work enough to be a potential legal issue.

Re:Yay America! (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658226)

The difference is who owns the drive. If you are copying it to Google's hard drive, that's quite different from copying it to your own.

I haven't read their EULAs, but I suspect the way it's worded is that you're effectively renting that storage. I very much doubt that you can't copy an MP3 on a storage you own - I mean, if I rent a laptop, and load it with my MP3s, am I "distributing"?

All in all, the main reason I think they're good is because both Google and Amazon have went ahead without any license deals. That means that at least two independent lawyer teams - and, I would imagine, pretty expensive ones at that - have reviewed the law on this matter.

Re:Yay America! (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658290)

I haven't read their EULAs, but I suspect the way it's worded is that you're effectively renting that storage. I very much doubt that you can't copy an MP3 on a storage you own - I mean, if I rent a laptop, and load it with my MP3s, am I "distributing"?

Law supersedes contracts.

Otherwise, couldn't you just make a bittorrent EULA that says you are only "borrowing" space on other people's computers and that they have no right to use the copy themselves?

The EULA doesn't alter the fact that you are copying the file to a hard drive that is owned by Google or Amazon.

All in all, the main reason I think they're good is because both Google and Amazon have went ahead without any license deals. That means that at least two independent lawyer teams - and, I would imagine, pretty expensive ones at that - have reviewed the law on this matter.

That's not how the law works. Legal teams don't get to decide the law, judges, juries, and legislatures do. Every day, lawyers sign off on things that are later found to be illegal.

I do hope you're right though. But to act like there is no risk or exposure here is irrational.

Re:Yay America! (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658390)

Law supersedes contracts.

Otherwise, couldn't you just make a bittorrent EULA that says you are only "borrowing" space on other people's computers and that they have no right to use the copy themselves?

The EULA doesn't alter the fact that you are copying the file to a hard drive that is owned by Google or Amazon.

The concept of rental is well-established in the law. If I rent an apartment, whatever I store in it is my concern, and I bear sole responsibility over it, even though the apartment itself is owned by someone else.

That's not how the law works. Legal teams don't get to decide the law, judges, juries, and legislatures do. Every day, lawyers sign off on things that are later found to be illegal.

I know how the law works. Nonetheless, the point of legal review is to have reasonable assurance that your actions are not illegal. Quite obviously, legal teams at both Google and Amazon realized that RIAA et al will scrutinize the legality of the arrangement very thoroughly, and so surely they did go over all the weak points. Judging by the fact that they (both!) gave the go-ahead, the consensus is that the law in the area favors them. The fact that RIAA haven't sued yet (despite whining a lot in the media) further goes to reinforce the point. Sure, it may well be that they overlooked some important corner case, but the chances look slim to me.

Either way, I don't see what the risk is for the end users. I would imagine the numbers for both services combined now number in hundreds of thousands; if RIAA goes out with a blanket lawsuit targeted at everyone who uploaded so much as a single file, it'll be a PR clusterfuck of epic proportions for them, and even they are not that stupid.

(I do assume that you back up all purchases you make "in the cloud" locally here, as I do with my Amazon account - this is a good idea regardless of any legal uncertainties, since you never know when the particular piece of the "cloud" goes belly up.)

Open-source version of Cloud Player (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657934)

Shouldn't be even be too hard to write an open-source alternative to Amazon Cloud Player, targeted at a medium sized group of friends, which would run on Amazon's EC2 facility. There's probably a sweet spot where the free sharing without worrying about law enforcement would make it worthwhile (and as the **AA's crack down on other means of sharing, this sweet spot becomes smaller and smaller groups).

Why not cut out the middle men? (1)

acehole (174372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657630)

So why don't google / amazon just start breaking up the recording industry so they don't face these "challenges" by those trying to hold onto their old business models while continually getting rich off of others work?

Re:Why not cut out the middle men? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657714)

I'm sure there would be all sorts of lawsuits. Google using it's search engine to promote it's music service etc etc

Re:Why not cut out the middle men? (-1, Troll)

essayservices (2242884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657724)

becoz people already have http://a.ly/5a [a.ly] for their entertainment.

Re:Why not cut out the middle men? (1)

xeon13 (2268514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657754)

hmm..!!??? is diss some kind of services..!!!??? because i like it many days i finding on google but here i got that ;)

Re:Why not cut out the middle men? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657730)

Of course what they really fear is people sharing their music collection, with only one person listening to each licensed track at a time. With an average of around 4 minutes (gees, all this crap over four bloody minutes) per track, that means that 360 people per day could listen to that track, while the licensed owner of the track is not listening to it.

Personally all music largely dies and most people are just vainly listening to it trying to recapture lost memories. Better to let the old greed driven crap die and let new open, creative commons music take it's place.

Re:Why not cut out the middle men? (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657996)

"Personally all music largely dies and most people are just vainly listening to it trying to recapture lost memories. Better to let the old greed driven crap die and let new open, creative commons music take it's place."

I could not disagree more. There was great music made before I was born that is still great. There is music made now (though granted a small percentage) that will also stand the test of time. It's not all throwaway trash.

I don't know.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657632)

"Santa Clause ain't legal and he's around"

Master Shake

We're from the music industry (4, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657640)

And we'd just like to remind you that you need a separate license from us when:

-you buy the CD
-you rip it to your hard drive
-you make backups of your hard drive
-you copy it to your MP3 player
-you copy it to your cloud storage
-you stream it from your cloud storage
-you copy it to your brains neural network

N.B.: If you retain a copy in your brain's storage (also called "song in my head"), you'll need another license.

Re:We're from the music industry (3, Insightful)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657664)

You also forgot that you will need a license if you:
-sing a song aloud
-play a CD in your car too loud
-play the radio too loud
-write down some lyrics to remember that song later
-in any other manner reproduce or recite a song

Re:We're from the music industry (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657716)

Does "singing a song aloud" cover humming in the shower?

Re:We're from the music industry (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657766)

Unfortunately that is a licence that you will need to purchase separately.

Re:We're from the music industry (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657768)

Thanks for pointing that out. It doesn't. Please buy a new license for that,

Signed: RIAA

Re:We're from the music industry (1)

aevan (903814) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658422)

Nah, presumably one falls under 'public performance' and the other doesn't. If it does, that's a whole 'nother license you'll be needing ...

Re:We're from the music industry (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657720)

Licensing increases for: -playing acoustic versions of songs on your guitar in your dorm room -playing CDs in your non-public place of business -even considering looking to get music with a CC license

Re:We're from the music industry (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657808)

I can see no possible way how this could be misused on a scale that could even overshadow BitTorrent once people start sharing their content in those cloud storages.

Re:We're from the music industry (2)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658324)

I tend to think of these things in rather simplistic, though hopefully realistic terms:

We are trying to come to terms with a very real paradigm shift.

In the past, life was easy. The written word was the written word. Broadcast TV was broadcast TV. A CD was a CD. You can replace each technology with what you wish (as long as it was available at the tie), but the equation was always the same.

Things these days aren't so simple though. Words can be in print or on the screen. When on the screen, they can be in innumerable formats. Same goes for video, which currently comes in a multitude of formats (from DVDs to files to streaming). It used to be relatively hard to store, so you could choose broadcast or cable or even VHS, but the reality is that recording on VHS usually cost a significant portion of buying on VHS so the former didn't make a huge difference. Cheap people could do what we call time-shifting today, but it was usually more convenient to buy what you wanted to keep (both because of the time and effort as well as the quality of the result) and time-shifting doesn't really matter (even to people in the industry). Music was a bit different, albeit not hugely different. It was certainly a lot cheaper to copy individual songs that you liked from albums in the audio cassette era, to create mixes, but that was mostly because individual songs stood alone yet it was cheaper to sell them in compilations. Life is more complex today though, since it is easy to sell singles in an industry that used to thrive on compilations. But that's their fault. What isn't really their fault is how we think about those singles. Once upon a time we used to think a cassette would work in a car or a stereo or a walkman. That worked for us. That worked for the industry. Thing is though, we think in easily copyable files these days, while the industry still thinks in terms of media that you carry around. The cassette may have been playable in all of those places, but there was only one copy. The audio file may be playable in all of those places, but there are multiple copies. And when there are multiple copies, they can be used concurrently. That is a problem for the recording industry, and I think that it is legit.

How do we fix that problem, I dunno. They don't know either, and most consumers don't care because they feel entitled. And as much as I disagree with the publisher's feelings of entitlement, I also disagree with the consumer's feelings of entitlement.

Re:We're from the music industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658486)

Depending on where you live (e.g. UK), format shifting is illegal (not a breach of license; actually illegal). One may not like that (and to be fair, the music industry has apparently said it will not pursue for personal use) but that's the way it is. USA laws are not global, despite what the USA seems to think.

Who cares? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657648)

Is this "News for Lawyers"? No. Then no one cares.

MAFIAA (0)

subreality (157447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657652)

It depends. Have they paid for the proper "protection"?

Hasn't this battle been done before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657656)

Weren't there a few small companies that did the exact same thing years ago and got shutdown? Maybe due to lack of lawyer funds?

Oh and Dude, (1)

chameleon3 (801105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657698)

Using web-based.... for musical.... in a cloud.... yeah that ain't legal either

What are you, a fucking IP lawyer now?

The Cloud cannot legally be used for content... (2)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657706)

... because.

Well, I mean, really!

The artists! Think of the artists!

Child Porn.

Old people. Abused in Nursing homes.

And people can sing anything they want on their Birthday as long as it isn't to the tune written by the Hill's sisters in the late 1800's ... you know, "Happy Birthday to You! ... Happy birt ... [ BANG! THUD! ]

{sound of body being drug out of reality into the cloud. }

----- You can't have a new technology if there is any possible way Big Content can kill you. it. I mean it.

Sony, BASF and Maxell (2)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657728)

I do not remember that storage media was required a license. Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. is the 1984 USA Supreme Court ruling which said once I bought a song I can record it in another media for my own use. Sony, BASF and Maxell made the cassettes used for the backups, and only Sony objected. But did Sony, like Apple (in the current article) feel it necessary to pay license fees when their own cassette tapes were being used to back up the media?

At some point poking the beast will not be wise (5, Interesting)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657752)

Every time these types of things rear their head, I can't help but think one thought.

The Music industry isn't very big.

Or at least, not particularly valuable. They are small potatoes. Tin gods that have been acting like 500 pound gorillas for so long that it doesn't get generally questioned. But they are tiny. Miniscule.

It's a slippery number to pin down, but what I see tossed around when the value of the recording industry comes up is yearly revenues in the range of 10 Billion, give or take a couple. Grand total, worldwide. Not just new music or record sales or some small slice, but the grand total yearly gross revenue.

The market cap of Apple alone is in the 300 Billion range. The iPad by itself will likely have a higher revenue this year than the entire music industry. And the other players in the market are people like Google and Amazon and Microsoft. The music industry is repeatedly going out of its way to poke a stick in the eye of a market that is at least one order of magnitude larger than them.

So far it hasn't be worth the trouble of swatting the mosquitoes. Any modern attempt to replicate what Sony did in the 80s and absorb a significant chunk of the music industry will be met with the mother of all corporate and government battles. It would open more anti-trust, market capture, licensing and trade issues, etc. than even their armies of bored lawyers want to contemplate. Even if every interested party in the technology world got together as a consortium to buy out the record companies and license everything on open and non-discriminatory terms it would kick off the legal battle of the century.

But at some point it will be worth it. Between Google and Amazon's services and the massive data center that Apple just built, the tech companies may have spent more in the last year to create these services than the record industry will collectively bring in. If the mice don't learn to fear the cats they will be eaten.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657790)

Isn't it sad that we need companies to fight our fights? No matter what side of companies will win, it won't be in the interest of the general public as long as they are not an involved party.

The way it should be (but never was) is that politicians are the representatives of the people and would be deciding what would be in the best interest of those people. Not if Amazon and Google are less evil then Sony and friends.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657892)

No, it's incredible that companies' goals and our own public good might align such that companies seeking their own interest will be fighting for the public good, too.

That's not something to be depressed over, it's something to celebrate the few times it genuinely happens.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657856)

It's more than the fact that the recording industry thinks they're a 500lb gorilla. They think people have an ethical obligation to do business with them their way... people don't.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657914)

If the mice don't learn to fear the cats they will be eaten.

How poetic.

I'm sure glad that Google, Amazon and Apple are in the business of funding the creation of music.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658024)

Both Amazon and Google already help support musicians via associates and google ads. It's not a very big step from Amazon's ebook self publishing to music self publishing, and can't you already do this via iTunes (admittedly, nothing stopping you from just selling via your own website and using google checkout or amazon payments).

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658028)

You're missing the point. Think "vertical integration." The point is not whether Google, Amazon, and Apple are *currently* in the business of funding the creation of music. Rather, at present, their business is that of producing electronic gadgets and providing data services. This currently has a "licensing expense" line - payable to the music content producers - on the balance sheet.

As the music industry continues to attempt (via litigation and other methods) to carve an ever-larger slice of revenue out of Google, Amazon, and Apple, the "licensing expense" line will climb. As it climbs, at some point, a cost-benefit analysis of "pay licensing expense" versus "(hostile) takeover of music industry" is going to tell Google, Amazon, and/or Apple that the correct response is no longer "pay licensing" but rather to execute "(hostile) takeover of the music industry"... thus removing the "pay licensing" expense line from their electronic gadgets business as they vertically integrate one of their "suppliers." After this occurs, Google, Amazon, and/or Apple WILL in fact be in the business of funding the creation of music.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658168)

I'm sure glad that Google, Amazon and Apple are in the business of funding the creation of music.

The RIAA is?

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (4, Interesting)

AncientPC (951874) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657924)

Johanna Blakley gives a TED Talk about fashion's free culture [ted.com] where she compares it to the music and movie industries (slides here, PDF [learcenter.org] ).

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, so here's a simple chart displaying the relative gross sales of each industry [imgur.com] .

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (2)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658208)

The problem is that the "High IP Industry" is concentrated between a few players. There are only 4 major music publishers and Hollywood. Their CIOs can easily come together and spend a few million in campaign contribution and call themselves the "I.P. lobby". In addition, they know they are minuscule and they know they will get less and less important, so they are making everything in their possibility to get any help they can get. Also, they always claim to represent the authors, musicians and filmmakers of the world.

Politics in the USA have nothing to do with rational thoughts. It have a lot to do with personal believes, personal agendas and who is making the most noise (meaning contribution money).

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657974)

The music industry is just one part of it. Pretty much all that work in the IP industry is looking at some form of "First they came for the music industry..." scenario. The RIAA. The MPAA. TV networks. The porn industry. The BSA. E-books. Put together there are a lot stronger forces at work to defend copyright, because they all realize it's not going to stop there. It would come to a showdown of who controls the creative output of all of them, they or the public. Sure, there's a little bit of infighting right now but don't pretend any of them has really changed sides, this is just corporate interests interfering.

Apple is hardly in the "anti-IP" camp. They have a ton of software patents on their products, they subscribe to the idea "we designed it, we OWN that idea". They're just opposed to anything that gets in the way of their profit margins. That's the way with most these companies, they're playing both sides of the fence. Google almost closed one helluva book deal where they'd use copyright to give themselves exclusive rights to the scans. Amazon makes good money on shipping CDs, DVDs, BluRays, computer games and so on - is it in their best interest to stir the pot here? And Microsoft is of course a heavy copyright defender.

So what are they going to say to the music industry? "You're being to obsessive-compulsive about control, ease up!" is the pot calling the kettle black - at least the music industry doesn't have mandatory online activation yet. Both the video and software industry is full of DRM that music doesn't have anymore. They just want to tug at this a little to make them back down, not unravel the whole rug. They certainly don't want the public to take any of this as any kind of endorsement or support for weakening corporate control, that's for sure. In the end I think that's why they reached an agreement, they have more to lose than to gain by bringing it to a showdown in court.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658000)

In the end I think that's why they reached an agreement, they have more to lose than to gain by bringing it to a showdown in court.

Sigh, where's my edit button... I meant to say they should have reached an agreement. Obviously, they didn't.

Re:At some point poking the beast will not be wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657994)

Buy large label, give away music for free, bankrupt everyone else by flooding the market with free music, profit.

Rich Pirates (-1, Redundant)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657758)

I remember when Michael Robertson's MP3.com was prohibited from letting us store a copy of our own music we'd bought and encoded to MP3, that was locked where only we could play it back for ourselves. Supposedly the music industry had to stop him, because flash-ROM players (the Diamond Rio) were going to kill music sales once and for all.

Once again it will be proven that piracy of content is business as usual for those rich enough to make it part of big business. Mere humans must pay the total potential market value of any content copied without some claimant's authorization, for years after the content has become folk content from the work of the audience keeping it alive (usually by copying it among themselves).

Rich Pirates (-1, Redundant)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657770)

I remember when Michael Robertson's MP3.com was prohibited from letting us store a copy of our own music we'd bought and encoded to MP3, that was locked where only we could play it back for ourselves. Supposedly the music industry had to stop him, because flash-ROM players (the Diamond Rio) were going to kill music sales once and for all.

        Once again it will be proven that piracy of content is business as usual for those rich enough to make it part of big business. Mere humans must pay the total potential market value of any content copied without some claimant's authorization, for years after the content has become folk content from the work of the audience keeping it alive (usually by copying it among themselves).

Re:Rich Pirates (1)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657800)

You remember incorrectly. I know it's an incredible task, but RTFA.

Amazon Cloud Player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657816)

... isn't a storage service. It's only access to the content that Amazon's master archive has stored.

Is legality important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36657826)

If it is illegal, just hire a judge or buy a bill.

Lost in Translation (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657828)

Suppose I took two songs owned by two different copyright holders. Say I slowly change the pattern of one song so until it more resembles another song, and call this a gradient.

At what point does the owner of the first song no longer have a copyright over it?

Please RIAA, Zeno's been kicking your ass since ancient Greece.

Re:Lost in Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658002)

They'd probably just say that every point in the open interval on the gradient between the two songs is a derivative work of both works, and thus, both copyright holders can smack you over it.

Apple's iCloud Is Just As Iffy (1)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657838)

Though Apple is in negotiations with the 4 big labels, there will still be thousands of labels that haven't given them permission for users to upload and stream their songs. So Apple's being just as legally iffy as Google and Amazon. The difference is that Apple is cutting deals with the labels most likely to sue them so they won't.

Re:Apple's iCloud Is Just As Iffy (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657920)

there will still be thousands of labels that haven't given them permission for users to upload and stream their songs.

I don't need permission from a label to upload music I've paid for to a storage locker and to stream it or redownload it where ever I want. First label who says otherwise can suffer the death of a thousand cuts of not getting paid anymore for music.

Maybe Google should just buy the music industry. (2)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657952)

Was it Chris Anderson who recently suggested that Google simply purchase the whole shebang? Anyway, the entire recording industry is valued at something less than Google's cash reserves.

I would like to be a gecko on the wall to see the look on the Sony Music legal team's faces when they find out that the company they have been suing now owns them. w00t!

Re:Maybe Google should just buy the music industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658014)

Google should buy the whole of the music industry and then just disband it. Nothing of value comes from the mass production of what once was art anyway.

MP3.COM did this already and lost horribly (1, Informative)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657956)

MP3.COM had the "My.MP3.com" feature, which let users stream music from CDs that they had registered with the site. Universal Music Group sued them and cost mp3.com $53 million in judgements and legal fees.

Re:MP3.COM did this already and lost horribly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658128)

MP3.COM had the "My.MP3.com" feature, which let users stream music from CDs that they had registered with the site. Universal Music Group sued them and cost mp3.com $53 million in judgements and legal fees.

In 1999, $53M was a lot of money for a fledgling dot-com that had just raised $344M [cnet.com] from its IPO.

With respective market capitalizations of $316B, 167B, and $94B, a judgement of $53M ($0.053B) is fucking pocket change for the likes of AAPL, GOOG, and AMZN.

As much as I hate to see the bad guys rewarded for their misdeeds, the best thing that could happen for the Internet would be for a consortium of dot-coms to simply buy MAFIAA out, lock, stock, and barrel.

Re:MP3.COM did this already and lost horribly (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658250)

If you RTFA (a shocking idea on /. but sometimes still worth it), it explains precisely how mp3.com was different.

Specifically: mp3.com used their copies of MP3s, after determining that the user presumably owns the same track by scanning a CD locally on that user's computer. In contrast, all three services in question require that you actually upload the MP3s that you own (leaving aside the store part of it, where you buy a track & it is immediately put into your cloud storage). Even if the files are bit-for-bit the same, as far as law is concerned, the distinction is still important.

Re:MP3.COM did this already and lost horribly (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658282)

Even if the files are bit-for-bit the same, as far as law is concerned, the distinction is still important.

When the law has this large a disjoint with reality, it's a pretty clear sign the law needs to be changed. Next they'll be telling us deduplication is illegal...

Maybe I'm getting old but... (2, Informative)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36657958)

...all this iCloud, Amazon and Google music storage nonsense sounds a complete waste of time.

For years I've been buying CDs, ripping them to FLAC once then converting to MP3 as I need them. I store the MP3s on a portable hard disk and keep it with me for when I need it. It also works when there's no Internet connection.

Personally, I think far too many of you have far too much spare time on your hands to be worried about some nonsensical and convoluted web services that are trying to justify their own existences. That's why you should learn to think like an engineer because you can discover simpler solutions for yourself.

iCloud also works with no internet (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658018)

I store the MP3s on a portable hard disk and keep it with me for when I need it. It also works when there's no Internet connection.

The iCloud is all about local storage, and replication of same. If you signed up for the Match part, you could take that whole HD, have it Matched, and then download to an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad/Mac any of the songs on that HD over the internet. Then when you went traveling anything you had downloaded would be there...

The 256kbs AAC files would be almost as good as the FLAC in terms of quality, and very probably better than the MP3's.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (-1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658038)

And this beats a portable hard disk with your music on precisely how?

You seem to have missed the point and told me what I already knew. The reason I convert to MP3 from the FLAC "masters" I have on my home server is to turn them into a format and size suitable for my music player, I am fully aware that they are lower quality than other formats, that being the precise reason why I convert them as required from the FLACs.

What you haven't done is given me any explanation as to why this service is better than carrying your music with you in the first place - and I suspect the reason for it are there are none.

Can I also add that storing your music in the Cloud gives the providers of those services information about you and your buying habits which in turn can lead to targetted advertising and going on spam mail lists - a distinct disadvantage in my view.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658080)

1) You then don't have to carry around tens of gigs of data with you wherever you go.

2) No matter where you are, what device you're on (desktop, laptop, cell phone, work computer, etc), you can access your music.

3) Eventually, the massive data processing power that these companies provide will lead to some great things - recommendations is an obvious use.

... and what's wrong with targeted advertising? It's better to have relevant ads than terrible ones. If I could get targeted ads on my TV so I never again had to see yeast infection commercials, I'd love that.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658114)

1) I don't see why having your data with you is a disadvantage. Actually it's an advantage because you can access it whenever you like, Internet connection or no Internet connection. And if I save my money by not wasting it on pointless web services, then I can put a bigger hard disk in my laptop to store it there... or a portable hard disk... or a few memory cards because I'm clever enough to buy a music playing device that has a memory expansion port built into it...

2) I would be very surprised if most companies are going to put up with their employees downloading their music collections through the corporate LAN. And wireless 3G connectivity to get your music is expensive - and I don't throw money away when there are simpler solutions.

3) Speculative and pointless comment. Why would I invest in a service that might give more usability at some point in the future?

Finally, I don't like advertising. I don't like junk mail, spam or telemarketing calls. And if I watch TV then it's usually the BBC here in the UK where there is no advertising. I even do not have cable or satellite TV because I do not believe in paying for a service that also feeds me advertising. Plus I don't want my personal information sent around between corporations who I have not myself chosen to do business with.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658180)

I don't see why having your data with you is a disadvantage

Having all of it everywhere is a disadvantage in terms of size and weight.

And if I save my money by not wasting it on pointless web services, then I can put a bigger hard disk in my laptop to store it there...

iCloud is free, the Match part is around $20/year. Going to take a lot of years to pay for that new HD.

Why would I invest in a service that might give more usability at some point in the future?

You'd mostly be paying for what it does now. Isn't the possibility of future enhancements nice though?

Finally, I don't like advertising. I don't like junk mail, spam or telemarketing calls. And if I watch TV then it's usually the BBC here in the UK where there is no advertising. I even do not have cable or satellite TV because I do not believe in paying for a service that also feeds me advertising. Plus I don't want my personal information sent around between corporations who I have not myself chosen to do business with.

I believe in all the same things. I also hardly ever watch TV, I don't subscribe to cable, I don't like advertising AT ALL.

And that is why I prefer to do business with Apple, the only company that seems willing to keep marketers at arms length from the consumers.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (0)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658224)

Having all of it everywhere is a disadvantage in terms of size and weight.

My musculature is not that sensitive that the additional weight of a few ounces by carrying a portable hard disk in my pocket, or indeed the few grams resulting from additional hard disk platters in my laptop when I upgrade from an internal 160GB to 500GB hard disk. This is a non argument, there is very little physical weight to data storage at the level the likes of you or I need.

Yep, get to Storage Area Network levels of storage then that's different! :-)

iCloud is free, the Match part is around $20/year. Going to take a lot of years to pay for that new HD.

The Internet connection to connect to the Cloud is frequently not free.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (1)

allanw (842185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658352)

How do you connect your portable hard drive to a music playing device that you could use while walking around? Sure, you could transfer pieces of your music library to your 16GB phone, but wouldn't it be convenient to just stream your music off 3G anywhere?

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658428)

Yep, can't argue with that one - if you have your music on a hard disk, you need a computer in between the hard disk and the phone to transfer the music.

But I do have SSH/SFTP access to my home music drive from my Droid phone, so I can download direct to it if need be. I could also put a music streaming service on the home server if I wanted to, I just don't believe I'd use it that much so haven't bothered.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658430)

Aside from issues relating to cloud security or robustness, I will never misplace the cloud nor will I ever drop it or have it stolen from my physical person.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36658228)

1) You then don't have to carry around tens of gigs of data with you wherever you go.

Seriously?
Tens of gigs of data has taken a smaller space in my pocket than my keys for years.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658298)

And this beats a portable hard disk with your music on precisely how?

My wife can use it.

Re:iCloud also works with no internet (0)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658056)

Incidentally, the usage of AAC serves no practical purpose as it is supported by less players than MP3, FLAC or even OGG.

It is another pointless file format that the world does not need but that serves only to put more control over what you do into the hands of a power and money hungry corporation - in this case Apple.

Every time you use AAC you are one step closer to handing over your Consumer Rights to Apple - my advice is don't use it in the first place, it's evil.

No more or less evil than MP3 (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658160)

Incidentally, the usage of AAC serves no practical purpose as it is supported by less players than MP3, FLAC or even OGG.

Well hundreds of millions of people with iPods or iPhones or iPads would disagree with how "useless" an AAC file is.

To claim it's supported on fewer devices than Ogg... absurd.

Every time you use AAC you are one step closer to handing over your Consumer Rights to Apple - my advice is don't use it in the first place, it's evil.

Why? There is nor DRM. At any point I could transcode to some other format if I wanted. The audio quality is quite good (better really than MP3) and it has all the same issues that MP3 does as far as patents go.

I like Flac too but even with cheap disc storage these days the space to keep FLAC of everything is daunting, and there's lots of music I don't care about THAT much.

Re:No more or less evil than MP3 (0)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658256)

To claim it's supported on fewer devices than Ogg... absurd.

Okay, maybe not Ogg - but definitely FLAC and MP3. However, Ogg is worth mentioning here because, like FLAC, it is entirely license free, unlike MP3.

Why? There is nor DRM. At any point I could transcode to some other format if I wanted. The audio quality is quite good (better really than MP3) and it has all the same issues that MP3 does as far as patents go.

If you transcode from one lossy format to another lossy format, you will lose quality. And since you are already doing that conversion then you are by default admitting that AAC does not give you all of the usability you require, hence the need to convert.

And if you are already prepared to do that conversion, then why would you not do so from a lossless format like FLAC first?

You mentioned DRM, I didn't because whilst it's evil, it's entirely irrelevant to this discussion. AAC is a proprietary (Apple-owned) file format just like MP3 - therefore every time you use it you can theoretically be asked to pay a license for it. And if that license is not granted for some reason, then you files are useless to you.

I have no problem with people using open source or closed source software, whatever works, but proprietary file formats are evil because your usage and consumer rights are restricted as a result.

I like Flac too but even with cheap disc storage these days the space to keep FLAC of everything is daunting, and there's lots of music I don't care about THAT much.

Agreed. But FLAC being a space-consuming format does not automatically mean that using AAC is not evil.

Re:Maybe I'm getting old but... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658450)

For years I've been buying CDs, ripping them to FLAC once then converting to MP3 as I need them. I store the MP3s on a portable hard disk and keep it with me for when I need it.

This is simpler than iTunes or whatever music app I use periodically syncing whatever I've added to it via opening up the file or buying from the related store?

If this is "thinking like an engineer" no wonder apple is beating the pants off of any given mobile company in terms of mind share.

It's a trap... (1)

tolomea (1026104) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658074)

To make efficient use of the storage space these services will hash the mp3's, store each unique file once and record which users have uploaded it.

Then the RIAA will subpoena the lists of which users have which mp3's. If a hundred users all have the exact same mp3 and it didn't come from one of the (very few) legal sources of mp3's then at least 99 of them copied it.

Game over.

More basic questions (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658320)

I think there's two basic questions that need a solid answer from the courts (who up until now have declined to directly answer the question) or the legislature (who've been paid large sums of money to avoid answering the question):

  1. If, having legally purchased a copy of a copyrighted work, I wish to store it and access it by several different methods, is this something I have a legal right to do as a consequence of owning that copy?
  2. If the answer to #1 is "Yes.", do I have the right to contract out the management, maintenance etc. of the storage system to someone else?

The various rightsholders have made much of what's different with digital media. I think it's time to put forward what hasn't changed: that this is the purchase of a copy of a work, just like always. Because I think putting it back into that context, just like books, just like music tapes and CDs, will make it almost impossible for the rightsholders to argue the point successfully. Don't argue piracy and such. If they try to bring it up, push back and say "No, we're discussing legally-purchased copies, ones we paid the author for, just like when we pay for a copy of a book.".

hmm (1)

amnezick (1253408) | more than 3 years ago | (#36658474)

TMC(too many comments);DR I think it's just like a context sensitive storage service. If I build a service that allows users to upload pdfs and (for usage sake) I provide a way to view these files online anywhere they have an internet connection via .. i dunno .. pdf.js maybe does that mean I have to get a license from ebook publishers because my service allows users to upload ebooks (which they may have bought god knows from where) and read them online? That's my POV.
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