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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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:06AM (#35666860)

    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.

    That is exactly why the Amazon service looks like it might stand up legally. The user has to upload the content rather than it originating from a central source. This may seem like a subtle distinction but it changes the legal standpoint massively.

  • by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:07AM (#35666884)

    If I remember correctly, My.MP3.com also allowed users to share their collection as well which is was certain to doom it from that aspect in itself. Now as long as this is locked to your account only I would see no problem with this.

    I am rooting for Amazon obviously in this case and hopefully finally end the RIAA ability to double, triple dip their excessive licenses.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:12AM (#35666952)

    How they see it in non-important in the end though. They've already made their position clear on the matter. What matters is whether or not they can convince a court that they are being illegally harmed. That's often a whole different reality than how a party wants to "see" an issue.

  • by chaboud (231590) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:17AM (#35667018) Homepage Journal

    You need to read up on the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions. ISPs and hosting providers are *not* responsible for the content pushed to them by users. Besides, it's a private, per-user setup.

    What about the content that you put on Sky Drive? In GMail? in regular email? On your ftp server at your hosting provider?

    It is not the responsibility of ISPs to audit and police every bit that passes over their equipment. Simple common sense and the law both agree with me (a rare gem in itself).

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:24AM (#35667100) Journal

    There are differences between taking your bought and paid for music collection and putting on a file server you own, and streaming your own music to your devices

    Where does the difference start?

    1. I rip my CDs and play them, is this legal?
    2. I stream the ripped music from my laptop to my hifi, is this legal?
    3. I store it on a file server on my local network and stream it to whichever computer / device I want to use, is this legal?
    4. I move the file server into a colo and stream it from there, is this legal?
    5. I replace the dedicated server with a VM on someone else's system, is this legal?
    6. I replace the dedicated VM with an account on someone else's system, is this legal?

    None of these steps look like they would be illegal in any jurisdiction where format shifting is allowed.

  • it's different (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:25AM (#35667132)

    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.

    Ah, but MP3.com ripped the disks and provided the copy to you, which is actually a pretty clear contradiction of copyright law (though perfectly ethical). Amazon is just storing and transmitting data that you provide. I don't know of anything in the law that would restrict this.

  • by doconnor (134648) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:25AM (#35667134) Homepage

    I suspect that, behind the scenes, if a two users upload identical files Amazon will only store one copy.

  • by Dishevel (1105119) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:27AM (#35667146)

    It is legal for me to "beat my meat".
    I do not think it is legal in most places around me to hire someone to do it for me. :)

    Just having fun is all.

  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:28AM (#35667162) Homepage

    Are they going to go after dropbox, jungledisk, or any other generic cloud storage people have been using to do this well before amazon thought about it?

  • by caseih (160668) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:32AM (#35667218)

    So... it's legal until Amazon starts running a dedup algorithm on their disks. Crazy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:39AM (#35667296)

    What matters is whether or not they can convince a court that they are being illegally harmed.

    That shouldn't be too hard, since the judge that will hear the case will probably be a former RIAA lawyer.

  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:39AM (#35667298) Journal
    If they weren't utter morons they'd realize that this could be a golden opportunity for the mafiAA.
    Step 1: get everyone to upload all their content to "the cloud"
    Step 2: obtain warrants
    Step 3: scan everyone's data in search of "IP infringement"
    Step 4: sue everyone for a gazillion dollars
    Step 5: profit!
    I know, I missed the "???" step. Oh well...
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @12:18PM (#35667778) Homepage

    You could even calculate a hash before uploading, and skip the upload if the file is already somewhere in the cloud.

    No, this is exactly what you can't do and what killed mp3.com. As pointless as it sounds to a computer scientist, it matters where the bits came from. They must come from YOUR copy, not someone else's copy and not some central master copy.

    For example, I could have a hacked client that only passes you the correct checksum values, and suddenly you give me access to lots of files I don't have. How did that happen? Oh, Amazon committed copyright infringement. In fact, no matter what it's copyright infringement because they rely on borrowing your fair use rights. Since your fair use rights don't involve taking a copy of someone else's CD, neither do theirs.

    The only way Amazon is safe is to let you access exactly what you uploaded, no more and no less. They can probably get by with deduplication as long as a skilled expert witness explains that everyone still have to upload their own copy and that it's simply a storage optimization. Anything else just crosses the border from ballsy to insane.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:26PM (#35668474)

    I'm of two minds on this one. When you purchase a CD, you do get license to play that CD, fair use, etc.

    No, you don't. Repeat after me, you do NOT need a license to play a CD you bought. You do NOT need a license to read a book you bought. And so on.

    You OWN the physical medium, and you can do whatever you want with that. You can microwave it. You can use it as a coaster. You can even put it into a CD player and press "play". None of that requires a license.

    In fact, you can do ANYTHING you want with it, save for a few things that you could otherwise do with the data on the disc (or in the book, etc.) that copyright law does not allow you to. I can't give you an exhaustive list, but it's things such as distribution, public performance and so on.

    Everything else is by definition within your rights - and not because you have a license allowing you these things, but because noone, especially not the copyright holder, has any say in whether you get to do these things.

    Don't fall for the "you're not allowed to do anything unless you have a valid license" crap.

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