Amazon.com has launched a new ‘music locker’ service allowing fans to access their collections of tunes on any device of their choice, beating both Google and Apple to the punch. The top-flight online retailer launched two new services called the Amazon Cloud Drive and the Amazon Cloud Player, which let users to store up to 5GB of a music library at Amazon, with storage increasing to 20GB upon purchasing digital music from Amazon itself.
Amazon’s move is daring, to say the least, and the risk of legal action against the retail giant is high. The reason: it launched its new cyber service without securing content licenses from any major record labels and movie studios. It says it is still working out key legal issues related to the service, the Wall Street Journal reported. Sony Music Entertainment expressed dismay at Amazon’s plans, echoing concerns of others in the industry: “We are disappointed that the locker service that Amazon is proposing is unlicensed by Sony Music,” a spokeswoman said Tuesday evening according to CNN Money. When they actually do begin to seek licenses, it seems Amazon will soon be asking for forgiveness rather than permission.
Another similar ‘music locker’ service, started by entrepreneur Michael Robertson in the United States, was sued by EMI for copyright infringement. MP3.com lost this fight in A U.S. District Court in New York when a judge concluded that MP3.com was not engaging in protectable “space shifting” by storing subscribers’ CDs, but instead “re-playing for the subscribers converted versions of the recordings it copied, without authorization.” Judge Jed Rakoff concluded that this was not fair use and the legal fallout led to MP3.com’s merger with Verizon writes blogger Jake Linford.
“Cloud Drive is your personal disk drive in the cloud,” writes Amazon’s Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a welcome message on Amazon.com’s home page. “Anything you put in the cloud drive is robustly stored in Amazon’s data centers. You can upload your music collection to Cloud Drive, as well as any other digital documents.” The catch: a tight legal agreement to be signed by users giving Amazon (1) the right to police users’ computer files to check up on them and (2) the right to specifically indemnify itself by forcing users to be responsible for the content of their files.
As such, Paragraph 6 gives Amazon.com 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.”
And Paragraph 5 of the agreement states that users must “ensure that [they] have all the necessary rights [their] Files that permit [them] to use the Service without infringing the rights of any copyright owners, violating any applicable laws, or violating the terms of any license or agreement to which you are bound.”
What’s not clear from the agreement is exactly what kind of music is legal to upload to the cloud and how Amazon plans to make this determination and enforce these contractual provisions.