Amazon’s Online Music Box Upsets Music Industry

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Barely a day after it was announced, Amazon’s new Cloud Drive service is causing a lot of upset and anguish.

Turns out the record labels are not happy about this whole “store your music online” stuff. Not happy at all.

Some music industry execs are even questioning whether Amazon’s new offering could be legal.

The problem stems from the incredibly complex licensing agreements the labels have set up with the retailers. In the old days, music wasn’t licensed – it was manufactured and sold, unit by unit. In the digital era, the concept of the “unit” becomes that much more hazy.

It’s hazy because a “unit” is just a collection of bits, and these days, we don’t care where our bits are, just that we can use them when we need to.

Also, it’s hazy because technology is constantly changing and adapting, but business executives (not just in the music industry, but everywhere) struggle to keep up.

The boundaries are shifting under their feet. If I buy an MP3 file and store it on my hard disk, that’s fine. If I back up a copy on my backup drive, that’s fine too. What if I move my backup drive to another room? That’s not a problem. How about I move it to my garage, or an outbuilding? Should be fine.

Amazon’s cloud-based offering is the next logical step in that chain, but suddenly music execs are concerned that they will somehow be missing out.

But will they? One thing that Amazon’s service strongly encourages is the buying of more music. Any MP3s you buy from Amazon and store in its cloud are not counted as part of your total storage limit. There’s a strong incentive to buy, rather than to upload pirated copies.

That’s something the music industry should be celebrating, not slamming.

(Via Reuters)