Music biz faces losing battle on cloud streaming

Just hours after Amazon announced its Cloud Drive media storage service, music industry dinosaurs started bleating about licenses and copyright infringements.

Amazon not only caught its nemesis Apple with its trousers down, beating the Cupertino company's much predicted foray into cloud music streaming, but caused what must have been an almighty kerfuffle in Big Music boardrooms across the globe.

In a nutshell, Amazon's Cloud Drive, combined with its multi-platform Cloud Player app, will allow users to upload their entire music collections to the book-flogger's servers and play them on whatever device they see fit, wherever and whenever they like.

Sony spokeswoman Liz Young was quick to respond, telling Reuters, "We hope that they'll reach a new license deal, but we're keeping all of our legal options open." But she may live to regret her ill-advised comment and thinly-shrouded threat of legal action. Another Sony source told Billboard, “We are disappointed that the locker service that Amazon is proposing is unlicensed by Sony Music.”

Sony and its ilk have been fighting a running battle with music-sharing services and those who participate in them since the invention of the MP3 file format, and the lumbering dinosaurs within the music industry have resisted technological change throughout history.

Some readers will remember the outcry when CD duplication became commonplace, fewer will remember the furore over over home taping and the introduction of FM radio, and we'd be pleasantly surprised to find any readers still alive who remember when music publishers were first up in arms about the availablity of mass-produced sheet music, but all of these campaigns by self-interested music industry money men have sought to stifle the dissemination of music in its manifold forms.

Thankfully, there seems to be a dawning of recognition within Big Music boardrooms, prompted in no little part by forward-thinking operations like music streaming outfit Spotify, and things are moving along apace.

New distribution models pioneered by the likes of Apple's iTunes and Amazon broke the stranglehold on music and ended a world in which you could technically be prosecuted for making a copy of our own CDs. Licensing agreements now almost universally include permission to 'copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use,' once a track has been paid for, which is why Sony and the other members of the Gang of Four (Universal, Warner and Universal) don't have a leg to stand on between them when it comes to raining on Amazon's cloudy parade.

Amazon's Cloud Drive is, to all legal intents and purposes, no different to any other local hard drive. Access to its contents will be password protected and available only to the uploader (unless, of course, he distributes his login details to all and sundry which is an altogether different kettle of fish).

Amazon will not allow access uploaded content by third party apps, so will be able to keep a tight reign on how stored music is used.

There will, of course, be some individuals who game the system, but we suspect the days when the music industry hobbled a global music-buying public in order to punish a few feckless or greedy individuals are over. At least, we hope they are.

We also suspect that grumblings from within the industry will soon die down as the internal legal eagles come to the realisation that, although Amazon has made a massively bold move in opening up the way we store and access our media, there's not a single thing they will be able to do about it, short of cutting off the supply of music at its source.

With the combined sales power of Apple and Amazon at stake, quite frankly you'll see a comeback tour from Gary Glitter before that happens.