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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.

    • 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 elrous0 (869638) *

        Something tells me that Sony and friends won't see it that way.

        • 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 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 _Sprocket_ (42527)

            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.

            I'm reminded of when the RIAA's web site claimed that it was illegal to rip a CD to MP3s or make a copy to keep in your car. Granted - their president also went around saying that he believed each player should also have its own copy of any given CD.

        • 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 bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:09AM (#35666914)
        I would hope so. Streaming one's own uploaded music is nothing more than a specialized form of data retrieval. It's asinine to claim that Amazon cannot allow this.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:17AM (#35667016)

          I would hope so. Streaming one's own uploaded music is nothing more than a specialized form of data retrieval. It's asinine to claim that Amazon cannot allow this.

          "Asinine" is the record labels' established business plan AND profit model, you understand.

          In fact, "Asinine" might actually be a record label.

        • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

          Streaming one's own uploaded music is nothing more than a specialized form of data retrieval.

          One's own music? That would be music that you yourself performed and recorded. Otherwise, you don't "own" the music. You own nothing but a license to play it under the terms that its real owner dictates, and they're in the business of making you pay to listen to their music. And they're obviously not opposed to the idea of making you pay more than once to listen to the same song.

          And yes, I agree that it's completely absurd. They shouldn't be allowed to tell you where you can keep a copy of their music or wh

          • by Uberbah (647458) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:03PM (#35668264)

            That would be music that you yourself performed and recorded. Otherwise, you don't "own" the music. You own nothing but a license

            You own a copy of that music, big difference. Which means that this...

            to play it under the terms that its real owner dictates

            ...is total BS. You can buy music, transfer it to any devices you own, make a thousand personal backup copies of it, destroy it, list it on Ebay for a billion dollars - and there's not a damned thing the label can do about it.

            What copyright restricts you from doing is making copies of music and distributing them without permission. All this "licensing" nonsense is just RIAA propaganda.

            Now that that's out of the way, would you by chance be interested in purchasing some oceanfront property in Nebraska?

            • by bws111 (1216812)

              What section of copyright law gives you the right to 'transfer to any devices you own' or 'make a thousand personal backup copies'?

            • by Kjella (173770)

              You can buy music, transfer it to any devices you own, make a thousand personal backup copies of it, destroy it, list it on Ebay for a billion dollars - and there's not a damned thing the label can do about it. What copyright restricts you from doing is making copies of music and distributing them without permission.

              Your examples fall into two categories - destroying it or selling it is legally your right, because it doesn't involve copyright.

              Space shifting to another device? Fair use. Backup copies? Fair use. Without fair use, you could never make any copies at all. USC 17106 says the copyright holder has the exclusive right

              (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

              That's it, that's the whole quote with no exceptions or conditions. Unless any copies you make are fair use, they're illegal.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        I'm of two minds on this one. When you purchase a CD, you do get license to play that CD, fair use, etc. In this case, Amazon is acting as an intermediary for the end user, and providing the infrastructure for that functionality, but Amazon themselves do not have license for these.

        I somehow think Amazon is going to pull back a bloody stump on this one. 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 dev

        • 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 Homburg (213427) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:20AM (#35667048) Homepage

          It's a whole different ballgame when a for-profit company takes music it doesn't own, stores it, and streams it out, even if you are the one who is asking them to do so.

          I don't think it is. Generally, if it's legal for you to do something, it's legal for you to employ someone to do it on your behalf. I would be surprised if it would be illegal for me to, say, pay someone to come round to my house and rip my CDs for me. Amazon's system seems to be broadly analogous.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Dishevel (1105119)

            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 delinear (991444) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:51AM (#35667440)
              But it's only illegal in that one case because there is a specific law in place that overrides your legal right. That means there would need to be an existing law that says Amazon can't act as paid storage for your own legally purchased content - I'd be surprised if such a law existed.
            • by Combatso (1793216)
              You can hire someone to beat your meat.. You just can't solicit a meat-beater, and the meat-beater cant solicit beat-meat. Atleast where I live.

              I had way to much fun writing that.. even if I am wrong.
          • by afidel (530433)
            No, it doesn't. Amazon's just offering a more convenient interface to their cloud storage service. The fact that they are making place shifting easier doesn't make it any less legal.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          There is no difference here, ultimately the end users would be responsible for any infringement, but in this case there would be no infringement involved as there is no distribution. As long as Amazon has something in place to prevent these accounts being used for distribution they should be legally in the clear.

          The RIAA of course doesn't agree with that, but those are the same people that make money by selling people several copies of the same work because their DRM prevents people from making full use of

        • 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.

          • The music cartel would prefer that you have to buy a separate license for each kind of use.

            Actually they prefer a metered pay per play model, but they haven't gotten that one, yet.

        • 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 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 fermion (181285)
        From my understanding, new content is downloaded to the users local machine and the Cloud player, creating two distinct copies that are played from two distinct locations for a single purchase. The streaming kind of looks like Apple iTunes home sharing, so Amazon may have a leg to stand on there.

        Amazon is clearly engaging in a staring contest with the music labels, just as it did with publishers. Amazon, I think, is counting on the fact they are the only real alternative to iTunes, and if the labels do

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by halfEvilTech (1171369)

      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.

      • I don't think MyMP3.com allowed sharing, however, MP3Tunes (also created by Michael Robertson) does, and they're being sued by EMI over it.

        Apparently the distinction doesn't matter to the record companies - they sued in both scenarios.
    • Gotta agree with the parent post here. The "what's yours is yours, unless it is more mine", as an argument determined by corporate executives and armies of lawyers has got to go. Amazon should have no problem fighting off piss ant record companies at this point.
    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by doconnor (134648)

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

        • by gman003 (1693318)
          Why? Disk storage is cheaper than the processing power it would take to compare each new upload to the several billion files already uploaded. Something as simple as changing the ID3 tags from "Nobuo Uematsu" to "Uematsu Nobuo" would make the files different enough to require two copies. Multiply that by the millions of songs people will upload. Add in the fact that two people ripping the same audio CD (even with the same encoder and same settings) may not end up with identical files...
          • Unless they use a sane filesystem like ZFS.

        • by Cheviot (248921)

          I would too, if not for the earlier my.mp3.com case. Since that happened they'd be crazy to do as you suggest. Surely their lawyers would have pointed this out to Amazon.

        • by dr2chase (653338)
          If it gets to the point that the RIAA lawyers are arguing against the use of de-duplicating storage systems, I think they've probably lost.
        • I, for one, do not want to be the expert witness who has to parse out the differences between storing multiple copies, symlinks, hardlinks, file-level deduplication, block-level deduplication, whatever jiggery-pokery Amazon's EBS volumes use, whatever different jiggery-pokery supports objects and buckets on S3, to a layman jury and a judge who may or may not have gone to lawyer school back when glass ttys were pretty cool stuff...

          It may well be even worse because, since copyright law was written more or
          • I, for one, do not want to be the expert witness who has to parse out the differences between storing multiple copies, symlinks, hardlinks, file-level deduplication, block-level deduplication, whatever jiggery-pokery Amazon's EBS volumes use, whatever different jiggery-pokery supports objects and buckets on S3, to a layman jury and a judge who may or may not have gone to lawyer school back when glass ttys were pretty cool stuff...

            It may well be even worse because, since copyright law was written more or less entirely without any reference to contemporary storage, the decision might well hinge on some combination of how the backend works and what abstraction or abstractions are used to present the data to the user.

            Yeah, well, If you really want to blow their mind have someone explain how their beloved Internet actually works ( multiple copies of each packet are made as they bounce from router to router until they get to the destination ). Honestly, "copy" rights in this, the information age, are incredibly out-dated and inadequate. Seems to me like everyone is just ignoring how it all really works down at the packet / cache level.

            On just about every web page you'll find a copyright notice, which aren't even nece

      • 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 geekoid (135745)

        which is insane. If it's the same data, why should we need to make many copies? It's very wasteful.

        Think how cheap it would be if they just had 1 copy of all music and then gave access to people after they prove they bought the track? I mean, what would that be? 10 TB of data, maybe? now it's 5Gigs per person, min.

    • Is not a cadre of lawyers. Is a squad of ex-SEALs with rocket launchers.
    • by Tx (96709)

      I don't think it's that ballsy, as Amazon definitely has a case, but it's definitely an argument that needs to be had, so props to them for taking it on. As the summary points out, Amazon aren't providing the music, they're providing you with the means to stream your music to yourself. You can already do that in countless ways, and while I'm sure the music industry would like to charge you for a license for each and every one of those means, that doesn't mean they legally can. I don't know the My.MP3 histor

    • The issue at stake here may be whether or not Amazon has the license to stream audio that has been purchased from their store. The article is really light on details, but, if Amazon's the digital distributor of that music, depending on Amazon's licensing terms with the various studios which may strictly prohibit streaming of MP3 content by Amazon.

      I'm surprised their lawyer team didn't work things out with the various studios, the RIAA, and the mole people before going live with this thing.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      This.

      Yes, Amazon has far better legal power than mp3.com did, but the record labels have been at this stuff for years and have bought themselves sympathetic ears (and a goodly number of laws) worldwide.

      For a car analogy, it would be like a semi rig going against a train at a railroad crossing, as opposed to mp3.com's PT Cruiser. Either way, the fate will be the same in the end.

      Time will tell; I hope Amazon succeeds in this effort because Amazon is just doing active storage for one person, just like box.net

    • by bedroll (806612)

      I think a key difference is that my.mp3.com required that you prove ownership of the CD, but they did not use your file for streaming.

      Also important is the ruling allowing for remote storage of DVR content in the CNN v CSC Holdings case. So there's precedent both ways here.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Did mp3.com lose, or did they just run out of money?

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      On these issues, there are no right and wrongs, there are just two teams of lawyers and lobbyists trying to disrupt each other's reality distortion bubble.

      As the summary mentions, music transfers occur all the time. If the music industry want to tax or license transfers, let's define precisely in technical term what constitutes a transfer, and let's work around that.
  • Ssssshhhhh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail.cCOBOLom minus language> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:05AM (#35666852) 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?

    Don't give them any ideas!

    • 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 Ritchie70 (860516)

      Well, yes, you do need a license.

      Fortunately, you got it when you bought the music in the first place.

      • by Homburg (213427)

        People keep saying this, and it keeps not being true. You do not need a license to make copies of works subject to copyright in the course of non-infringing use. Copying an MP3 from a hard drive to RAM is not something the copyright holder can forbid, thus not something you need a license for.

  • Amazons lawyers will find a friendly, more bribable judge and eat you alive, setting a precedent you don't want set. So please please PLEASE follow up on this one :)
  • Amazon may be right with respect to music files people presently own.

    But in the future, music files may be sold with clauses addressing "cloud players".

    • But in the future, music files may be sold with clauses addressing "cloud players".

      In that case the music is not being sold. It is not yours to do with how you please so you do not actually own the music. You likely have a drm laden music file that's more hassle than it's worth, and their business model will fail, as it has done time and time again..

      • The music isn't being sold regardless. There are ALWAYS licenses, and adding to that license is not going to put DRM on the file. Furthermore, having DRM does not guarantee failure. Last time I checked, Netflix required DRM and they're doing just fine. Tons of commercially successful software incorporates DRM and sells just fine. Overly intrusive or cumbersome DRM can kill a business model. DRM itself does not. Stop looking at what you wish would be and start looking at reality.

        As for Amazon, should they
        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          Netflix's business model is renting, not selling. I don't really care if there's DRM on rented media since it's watch once then delete it. Netflix's service is also available on a lot of platforms, that helps a lot. In fact, I think they're the most compatible video service on the market today.

  • by Old97 (1341297) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:08AM (#35666912)
    The TV content providers are objecting to cable companies streaming their shows to iPads and other "non TV" devices in the home, even though they are being paid for that content. I don't understand their argument, but their logic is unmistakable; they want more money, more money, more money. I hope Amazon wins this thing on very broad grounds. I don't mind paying for content, but once and only once and for any device I own.
  • Evolving case law (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:10AM (#35666926)

    Amazon now has the benefit of CNN et al. v. CSC Holdings, aka the Cablevision Remote DVR Lawsuit, where the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Cablevision's favor and specified that, in part, the specific actions of the remote user instructing the remote DVR to record and play back the copyrighted material served to exclude Cablevision from liability. SCOTUS refused to hear an appeal on this, so other circuits might be inclined to agree with the 2nd Circuit.

    There are probably some differences here (not knowing about the specific functionality of Cloud Player, I won't speculate), so it'll be interesting to see how far Amazon can push the envelope.

  • ... Amazon is whistling past the graveyard on this one. I hope its not a copyrighted tune.
  • The linked article definitely gives the sense that merely being sued by the record companies is deterrent enough, and that "doesn't sound particularly good for Amazon."

    We need to get past the fear-mongering and extorsion of the RIAA and MPAA and remember that we have fair use rights. You are *not* entitled to the success of the business model of your choosing. If your business model is illegal, too bad.

    I'm pleased to no end that we finally have someone as big as Amazon, a company with a proven track recor

  • 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.)

  • Please Google and Apple, join Amazon and explain to the 4 greedy bastards and the MAFIAA that a music file does not need a specific license to be streamed once it has been bought.
    • Please Google and Apple, join Amazon and explain to the 4 greedy bastards and the MAFIAA that a music file does not need a specific license to be streamed once it has been bought.

      Seriously. Amazon on its own has much larger revenue and profits than the entire music industry, but if you add Google and Apple (and let's get MS in there, too) you can field a million-lawyer army to ensure success. This is one case where the American "if you're richer, you'll probably win" court system may work to the benefit of normal people.

  • 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?

    From one party to another? They might have legal footing but not based on that logic.

  • by szyzyg (7313) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:20AM (#35667046)

    Yes, before mp3.com launched their my.mp3.com service which was declared illegal.

    Myplay tried to get the record industry interested in downloads, but they couldn't get any interest from the majors, the best they could do was their online storage service and DMCA compliant user tailored radio streams. No flash in those days either, you needed to configure winamp or some other external player to actually stream the content.

    myplay never had any legal issues, they simply didn't have enough money to maintain such a service back when terabytes of disk space were only available in refrigerator sized racks of disks, and when most people were still on modem connections.

  • So, i guess these are the questions... 1. If you are streaming your music to a device that belongs to you does that count as broadcasting?
    2. Does your "personal" license to music allow to remotely broadcast music to a device even if you are the only one that can access it?
    3. If you are considered to be broadcasting, shouldnt this effect other devices such as sling box? (im pretty sure rebroadcasting sport events is pretty much frowned upon)
    4. Does this mean that uploading any music to a personal server m
    • by gman003 (1693318)
      I don't think it would be "broadcasting". Maybe "narrowcasting" is a better term - it's going to a small, determinable amount of endpoints, not to anything that happens to be listening in.
  • If I was one and I worked in Amazon's legal department, I would say something like the following:

    If you do this, you will be sued, regardless of the legality of your actions.

  • Do I need a license to stream MP3s from system RAM to the MP3 player?

    Outside the US, that depends on your country's provisions for fair use (one area in which the US seems relatively enlightened). In the UK, if you ripped a CD then you've infringed even before you get round to streaming (although that's never enforced - but if you bring a third party into the process, who knows?)

    However, the question is, if you let Amazon stream your files, is it still personal use (bear in mind, Amazon are not ar charity, so they'll have a cunning plan to make some money out of it somehow)

    • Sorry, I just re-read the post and decided that the way I "snipped" the Amazon quote (unintentionally) put a bit of a slant on it. The full quote is

      5.2 Our Right to Access Your Files. You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law.

      I don't think that alters my point that they are asking you to grant them rights to IP that you don't own, but Amazon clearly aren't proposing to party down to "your" music!

  • 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 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 MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:31AM (#35667200) Homepage

    The music industry's official distribution channels have come down to Target, Walmart, Apple and Amazon for most of their sales. I suppose there's "FYE," but I can't remember the last time I was in one.

    Of those four, Amazon is probably the least evil in terms of what it does to suppliers. Walmart in particular is legendary for cackling like the wicked witch as it tightens the vice around its suppliers' nuts just for shits and giggles. Apple is not as bad, but is run by a man who wouldn't hesitate to make an example of a record label that screwed with it in a way that they deemed "unacceptable."

    Really, Amazon is a big stick with which they can beat both Apple and Walmart if they play their cards right. Which is about as likely as the RIAA's executive suing Congress over the DMCA calling DRM an unconstitutional and "socialistic" restraint of trade.

    • I was waiting for someone to make this point.

      Unlike all the filesharing and other streaming outfits, the RIAA has something to lose in a fight with Amazon. Specifically, money they're making through Amazon right now.

      I'm not saying they're not stupid, crazy, or willful enough to get a lawsuit going anyway, but unlike basically all the other cases they have the only incentive that matters, money, to think twice about how they approach Amazon instead of just trying to rabidly crush them.

  • Amazon has shown several times now that they're willing to go toe to toe with the RIAA. They had DRM free music before that was the standard, and now they're pushing for cloud storage and streaming. Everything they're doing in regards to the music industry is pro-user and pro-consumer. So what about the Kindle? Why do they bend over backwards at every turn to please the book publishing industry and continue to DRM protect their eBooks? Why is it that they didn't fight the publishing industry on the Text-
    • Amazon has shown several times now that they're willing to go toe to toe with the RIAA. They had DRM free music before that was the standard, and now they're pushing for cloud storage and streaming. Everything they're doing in regards to the music industry is pro-user and pro-consumer.

      Amazon didn't get DRM free music because they were pro-consumer, but because the RIAA gave it to Amazon to have something to blackmail Apple with. Apple wanted DRM free music and same (low) prices for everything. Because the record companies gave DRM-free music to Amazon, but not Apple, Apple was forced to give in which is why you pay lower price for garbage, normal price for anything that is not garbage, and extra high price for everything you actually want to listen to.

  • by zsazsa (141679) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @11:45AM (#35667386) Homepage

    In 2009, Amazon's corporate revenues were $26.53B. For the same year, the entire RIAA's revenues were only $6.3B.

    Amazon should be able to swat them down like a fly.

    • More importantly, a big chunk of those RIAA revenue came through Amazon. They are the #2 music retailer after Walmart. They can slow down the money pipe, and quickly, for the label that gets in front of this bus. Worst case, they go scorched earth and quit selling that label's albums for a week. Every artist on the label's roster will freak. Investors will panic. Blood in the streets.

      Amazon owns those guys. And that's while this will last. A smaller site could never get away with it. In the end, public poli

      • Worst case, they go scorched earth and quit selling that label's albums for a week. Every artist on the label's roster will freak. Investors will panic. Blood in the streets.

        One more point. Unlike some pure-music shop, Amazon's revenue comes from a variety of sources. If Sony told Amazon "You can't sell Sony music anymore", it would be a hit in revenue, but Amazon has enough other revenue sources that it would be a small one. Meanwhile, if Amazon told Sony, "We're not stocking Sony music anymore", your sc

    • by xbytor (215790) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:17PM (#35668358) Homepage

      You forgot the $73 trillion that they'll be collecting from LimeWire.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @12:03PM (#35667620)

    Isn't a streaming license intended to charge a fee for streaming content to which the listener likely doesn't own a license; or at the very least, is unknown? In this case, hasn't the listener already paid (assuming the content isn't stolen) for a license on the content they are streaming to themselves? Assuming I understand the issue correctly, it really sounds like they are trying hard to double dip and receive payment twice for the same license.

    Anyone know if consumer music has an explicit streaming license clause attached? And if so, has that ever been tested?

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:13PM (#35668332) Homepage

    Just like you can't buy a car, reverse engineer it, and start mass-producing that car and competing with Mazda with their own product. You bought the car, not the plans to the car, nor the rights to sell it.

    Well, actually, you can, for most auto parts There's no copyright in functional parts. For that, you need a patent. There is a big aftermarket auto parts industry. The parts are copies of the originals, not new designs. The major auto manufacturers have tried to get legislation to stop that in the US, but Congress rejected it.

  • 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."

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