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Are Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player Legal? 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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Are Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player Legal?

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  • by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:04AM (#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.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:33AM (#36657860) Journal

    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.

  • by AncientPC ( 951874 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:59AM (#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].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @02:55AM (#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.

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