Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on April 5, 2011
Last week Amazon.com launched its cloud drive emphasizing music storage. Users can upload 5GB of CD or mp3 music collections to Amazon for free storage, streaming and downloading. Each additional GB of storage costs only a dollar per year.
The concept should prove to be attractive to consumers who increasingly want to play music on a variety of devices. Consider the convenience of having our tune libraries available in (1) our cars, (2) on mp3 players while exercising, (3) on smartphones wherever we go, (4) at out computers while writing casual emails or Facebook updates and (5) in our living room entertainment system during a romantic experience. Given increasing wireless Internet ubiquity, music playback devices and settings will likely become even more diversified in the future.
Cloud drive benefits are so obvious that it’s no surprise the concept was actually introduced about ten years ago by mp3.com and MyPlay. Unfortunately, mp3.com adopted a legally flawed approach and sustained damages that reduced it to irrelevance. MyPlay failed to enter the mainstream because of slower Internet speeds and conscientious compliance with then unrealistically restrictive rules imposed by record labels and music publishers.
Amazon’s cloud drive was apparently introduced without obtaining agreements with the labels and music publishers. Presumably Amazon’s attorneys feel that their approach is sufficiently different from mp3.com’s so as to qualify for a “Fair Use” exemption to copyright infringement.
Our guest today is Jim Burger who is an intellectual property specialist at Dow, Lohnes in Washington. Earlier Jim worked in a similar capacity for Apple and we have repeatedly interviewed him on copyright matters over the past seven years.
Jim emphasizes that the Amazon cloud service uploads and stores copies of each song for each user. In contrast, infringing mp3.com did not actually upload each copy of each user. Instead mp3.com matched each CD that users wanted to upload against an index of a master stored library. When users chose to play back the track, the mp3.com locker service actually streamed it from the master storage locker maintained for the benefit of all users.
Listeners to the audio version of Jim’s interview will note some choppiness. It apparently results from the fact that I used Skype for recording whereas in the past I’ve used the VoIP service provided by my cable company. The poorer result led us into a discussion of Net Neutrality. We pondered whether the better result with the cable company’s VoIP as compared to Skype demonstrated an example of an ISP providing a higher priority to the bits of its own service as compared to that of a competitor.