It’s not even 24 hours after the official release of Amazon Cloud Player and Amazon is immediately being hit by the major music companies saying that this cloud player breaks their copyright holds on the music. It seems that, almost as immediately as these accusations have surfaced, Amazon is ready with a rebuttal.
“Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It’s like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available.” Amazon spokesperson Cat Griffin said. The original download licenses should still apply and no new licenses are necessary — this is a seemingly logical conclusion that the record industry disagrees with.
This Cloud Drive and Cloud Player service, released yesterday, offers US-based Amazon customers 5 GB of free online storage to use for whatever they want. If they buy an album from Amazon MP3, they get an extra bonus of 20 GB of storage for the year. All Amazon MP3 purchases are automatically synced to the user’s Cloud Drive without going against their storage limit. Users can only stream their music by the Cloud Player Android or Web-based app. They — and only they — are only allowed to stream their music that they upload.
I wondered how Amazon managed to land a deal with record labels to license the music, given that Apple is trying to do the same thing and it is taking it time to work out the details. But, after a little digging, it seems that Amazon hasn’t made any deals with the record companies.
“The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.” Cat Griffin said in a statement, which is true when only one customer has access to a drive and it is not public. It seems to be a valid argument.
The music industry seems to disagree with everything that Amazon is saying. With regards to Cloud Player, it doesn’t like how it operates. The licensing companies say that they are keeping their legal options open and hoping to strike a licensing deal with Amazon.
“I’ve never seen a company of its size make an announcement, launch a service, and simultaneously say it’s trying to get licenses,” the anonymous exec said. It seems that Amazon was allegedly starting to address licensing issues but instead of making those agreements it put it off to the side and never came back to the issue.
EMI, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music have not made any public statement at this time. So it is unclear if Amazon secured any rights before launching. But, based on Amazon’s comments, it does not seem that Amazon is currently holding any licenses with the record labels.
Amazon has seemed to call the music industry’s bluff that new licenses are necessary when users stream their own music, and this definitely won’t be the last we hear of it.