Amazon Cloud Player prompts streaming spat as labels explore “legal options”

Mar 30, 2011
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Amazon's Cloud Drive and streaming Cloud Player services dropped earlier than expected; the rumors had only really begun to coalesce a few days before, claiming the online retailer was struggling with the same content owner licensing issues that were plaguing Google and Apple. Instead, it seems, Amazon pushed ahead with the launch and simply expected the labels to fall into line. That, unsurprisingly, isn't going down well, and despite Amazon's protestations, it looks like the labels are readying themselves for a legal fight.

Asked whether it was negotiation new licenses for the cloud-storage services, Amazon told AllThingsD that it felt it did not need them. "We do not need a license to store music in Cloud Drive" it argues, "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."

However, while Cloud Drive - the remote storage part of Amazon's proposition - is one matter, the content streaming of Cloud Player, with clients available for PC, Mac and Android, is another. That seems to push the company into streaming, which, Sony Music reckons, demands a new license. "We hope that they'll reach a new license deal," spokesperson Liz Young told Reuters, "but we're keeping all of our legal options open."

According to music industry sources, Amazon only informed the record labels of the Cloud Player plans last week, leaving discussion of potential licensing issues until later on. So far, nobody has suggested that Amazon is actually doing anything illegal, and the frustrations appear to be the retailer's cavalier attitude toward communications. Still, with Apple and Google both expected to launch their own streaming services this year, you can bet the content owners are looking closely at how they could take a cut of the cloud-streaming pie.


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