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Music Your Rights Online

Amazon's Cloud Player: We Don't Need a License 539

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the of-course-you-don't dept.
halfEvilTech writes "Amazon has launched Cloud Drive and Cloud Player without securing streaming licenses from the music industry. But does it need to? Amazon says 'No.' The music industry? 'Yes.'" Do I need a license to stream MP3s from system RAM to the MP3 player? From my hard drive to RAM? From my file server to my machine?
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Amazon's Cloud Player: We Don't Need a License

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:00AM (#35666802)

    My.MP3.com [wikipedia.org] tried out a similar argument years ago, and it cost them a $53 million lawsuit (which bankrupted them). And in many ways this is even worse. MP3.com at least required you to prove you actually owned a disc before you could stream it. Amazon will let you upload ANYTHING (pirated, ripped, bought--makes no difference) and stream it.

    Now Amazon certainly has a better cadre of lawyers at its disposal than mp3.com did. And it has a lot more muscle with the industry (since it's once of the leading music retailers). But, even with that, this is still a stunningly ballsy move on their part. Hell, Sony sues people for even looking funny at their IP.

    And, yes, I hope Amazon wins out on this. If nothing else, it would set a nice precedent for Google and Apple to open up their upcoming music cloud services in a similar fashion.

  • Re:Ssssshhhhh! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rufty_tufty (888596) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:07AM (#35666888) Homepage

    Considering I remember a time when big music was trying to make MP3s illegal because they could be played indefinitely and not wear out as any other media would, then yes they tried to do that one already.
    Fortunately they lost on that occasion.

  • by Cheviot (248921) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:10AM (#35666928)

    This is a different situation than my.mp3.com. In that case the website stored one copy of each piece of music, required the user to verify they owned it, then allowed you access to their stored copy. This was found to be actionable as they were allowing multiple people to download one master copy of a MP3, essentially repeatedly pirating that MP3.

    Amazon is establishing a separate cloud drive for each user. If you buy a MP3 they copy it to your personal drive for you. They also allow you to upload your music to that drive. There is a separate copy of each song stored on the cloud drive for each user, and the only MP3s Amazon copies to the drive are legally purchased. As the user can only download what they have uploaded or purchased, no piracy occurs, at least on Amazon's part. Users may be storing pirated music on their personal cloud drives, but these are private file storage areas and do not allow MP3s to be exchanged among users, thus the cloud drive does not facilitate piracy.

  • by mclearn (86140) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:13AM (#35666970) Homepage
    Actually, TFA states that if you purchase an MP3 from Amazon, it is automatically synced to their service. But other content will have to be uploaded, yes.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:14AM (#35666990) Homepage

    If you ask the RIAA what you need a license for, the short answer is "everything" according to them. They exist because they seek to claim rights to everything possible and expect people not to take the issue to court when they need an exception.

    The RIAA and similar activities are criminal in my opinion as they are extortionists who routinely claim to have rights over materials they do not have rights to. If the RIAA is to persist, the government needs to hand down an exclusive list of what they can claim and the requirements on how to make claims... requirements such as proof the material being litigated over is actually covered by their "watch." Further, I think in order to assert copyright protection, the copyrighted materials should be registered with the library of congress formally and in an unprotected digital format. (They should at least pretend to honor the social bargain of copyright and eventual public domain.)

  • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:24AM (#35667112)

    You didn't buy a license you bought a copy. CDs do not come with EULAs or ToS that dictate otherwise and I've never opened a jewel case and found such an agreement. Admittedly, it's been years since I bought anything from a major studio, but I doubt that much has changed.

    Consequently, if that's how they view it and expect it to be treated, they'd be liable for all sorts of false advertising and fraud suits.

  • by davide marney (231845) * <davide.marney@ne ... g minus math_god> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:29AM (#35667176) Journal

    From the Amazon MP3 Uploader App Help page:

    Files not supported by the Uploader

    • DRM (Digital Rights Managed) files: DRM protects the number and types of locations that songs can be played from. Because of these restrictions the Amazon MP3 Uploader and Amazon Cloud Player do not support these file types.
    • Non-MP3 and non-AAC formats: The Amazon MP3 Uploader and Amazon Cloud Player only support a select number of file formats. See below for a complete list of formats we support and a list of some of the files formats that we do not. To find out how to convert music into a file format we support, use your preferred media player.
    • Over 100 MB: Uploading files that are over 100 MB in size is currently not supported. If you have music files of this size that you would like to add to Cloud Player we recommend you re-encode them at a lower bit rate to reduce the file size. To find out how to convert music into a file format we support, use your preferred media player.
    • Miscellaneous audio types: Ringtones, podcasts, audio books, and other non-music audio files are not supported by the Amazon MP3 Uploader.
    • Playlist without eligible music: Playlists that contain only files with any of the above problems or that contain no music are not eligible for Upload.
      The following is a list of supported file formats and some of the unsupported file formats. Unsupported files will not show up in the Uploader as they are not available for upload.

    Supported file formats

    • .mp3 -- Standard non-DRM file format (Includes Amazon MP3 Store purchased files)
    • .m4a -- AAC files (Includes iTunes store purchased files)

    Unsupported file formats

    • .wma -- Windows Media Audio files
    • .m4p -- DRM AAC files
    • .wav -- Uncompressed music files
    • .ac3 -- Dolby Digital audio files
    • .ogg -- Ogg Vorbis audio files
    • .ape -- Lossless Monkey audio files
    • .flac -- Free Lossless Audio Codec files

    It will be interesting to see how well Amazon stands up to the inevitable court challenges. For music purchased from AmazonMP3, they are certainly on very solid ground, since they can prove that the Cloud Drive user is the purchaser; if Amazon has the legal right to download you the MP3 you just bought, they certainly have the right to download it for you again. The music industry has already taken their (very generous) cut in that case. You paid for it, you get to use it.

    Playing back non-AmazonMP3 files is where I think it gets a little sticky.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:45AM (#35667382) Homepage

    You would store 100,000 different copies because storage is cheap, and you might not be able to get away with feeding me back Bubba's tiny bitrate rip of the song's chorus played over and over when I ask for the version I uploaded. Excepting, of course, copies that match checksum, file size, and meta data with the version sold by Amazon, maybe (even that sounds like a lot of work when storage is so cheap).

    Well, the big storage vendors already have technology to do this. It's called deduplication [wikipedia.org].

    Basically, the storage arrays do this themselves. They find files which are identical to other files, and then collapse them so that there is only one actual copy, but it looks to the individual users like they have their own copy. Unless someone edits the file, the same copy is shared across everybody.

    In this case, it certainly wouldn't give you a different file at a different bit rate. It would only collapse files that are identical. So, you and Bubba wouldn't share the same copy of the file.

    So, presumably, if you and I both rip files to MP3, there might be some differences. If you and I download it from Amazon, that is going to be a good candidate to remove duplicates.

    As far as I know, that process happens in the background once you set it up, and it happens at the storage level of things. This is in use all over the place, and it certainly wouldn't be purely based off the file name.

  • Look at the statute (Score:4, Informative)

    by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:54PM (#35668760) Homepage Journal

    Do I need a license to stream MP3s from system RAM to the MP3 player? From my Hard Drive to RAM? From my File Server to my machine?

    17 USC 117(a): "... it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner."

    So, no.

    And before you start arguing that MP3s aren't computer programs:
    17 USC 101: "A “computer program” is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result."

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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