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MP3tunes Cloud Music Storage Is Not a Crime 2011/08/23

Posted by nydawg in Digital Archives, Digital Preservation, Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property, Media.
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Michael Robertson is a name that is very familiar to those of us who have been involved in digital media for the last decade or so.  He founded his first company, MP3.com in 1997 and, after a successful IPO, was targeted and shut down by the record labels a few years back.  Obviously he still has a few disruptive  ideas that directly threaten the labels’ existence including MP3tunes.  So this sounds like big news.   “The disk drives powering Dropbox, Amazon’s Cloud Drive, and Google Music likely issued a small sigh of relief Monday, after a federal court judge found that the MP3tunes cloud music service didn’t violate copyright laws when it used only a single copy of a MP3 on its servers, rather than storing 50 copies for 50 users.”

The recording industry argued that music locker sites are illegal with no licenses from copyright holders

Specifically, the part that stands out for archivists and online storage lockers is this bit from Ars Technica: “The ruling contains even more good news for music locker sites and fans of sensible copyright laws. As we reported last month, a key 2008 decision had suggested that locker sites would be more vulnerable to copyright infringement claims if they used deduplication technology to save hard drive space. That ruling was based on the theory that keeping a single “master copy” of a work and sending it to multiple users would constitute an infringing public performance.”

But Judge William H. Pauley III in this case said that MP3tunes’ system complies with that ruling.  “Importantly, the system preserves the exact digital copy of each song uploaded to MP3tunes.com,” Pauley ruled. “Thus, there is no “master copy” of any of EMI’s songs stored on MP3tunes’ computer servers.”  Curiously, the judge goes on to state that “MP3tunes does not use a ‘master copy’ to store or play back songs stored in its lockers. Instead, MP3tunes uses a standard data compression algorithm that eliminates redundant digital data.  “Sherwin Siy of Public Knowledge hailed the ruling, saying it “paves the way for both cloud locker services and integrated media search engines.”

We’ll see how this plays out in the future, but you can bet that sites like Google, Dropbox, and Amazon who offer similar services (without making a deal with the record labels) are very relieved.  Meanwhile, we will see how Apple iTunes deals with this in the future.  (They’ll no longer need to get agreement with the record labels?!)  Read about it in Wiredand Ars Technica.

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