Courtesy of WIRED
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.
For Amazon and Google’s nascent cloud music services, the decision clears the way for them to make it easier and faster for customers to use their music services; gives them legal cover to reduce the amount of disk space needed per user; makes it less likely that new customers of their music services will bust through their ISPs data caps when signing up; and clears the way for the companies to let users add songs found on webpages and through search to their lockers with a single-click — all without either being sued by record labels for doing so.
Monday’s decision centers on MP3tunes, a cloud-based online music locker service, that allows a customer to upload the music from their hard drives to a “locker” on the web, where they can play back the songs from any connected device.
But instead of uploading all of a user’s songs, MP3tunes’ software would check the library for previously uploaded songs and if a match existed, the song would just be added to the locker without requiring an upload. No matter how many customers “uploaded” that song, MP3tunes kept only a single copy.
EMI, whose artists include Usher, Jay-Z and Lady Antebellum, sued MP3tunes over that practice and others. In a complicated federal court decision Monday (see Threat Level’s write-up), a New York federal court judge ruled that the practice was legal — but only insofar as the single storage method is done for exactly unique copies. So for instance, all people who bought “Stairway to Heaven” as an MP3 from Amazon would have the exact same file (as determined by an MD5 Hash) and MP3tunes could just store a single copy.
However, the ruling makes clear that if MP3tunes scanned a customer’s music collection and found “Stairway to Heaven” ripped from a CD with a slightly different file size, the company could not simply substitute a master copy. Instead, that customer would have to upload the file.
While the latter case still seems non-sensical, the ruling still must come as a relief to Google, Amazon and Dropbox.
Though Dropbox, an online storage provider, has never been sued by record labels, it uses the exact disk-space saving method that MP3tunes did. If a Dropbox customer saves a file of any kind (text, movie or music) to their online hard drive, Dropbox checks the file’s hash. If there is a match, then the file is instantly “added” to the user’s online hard drives without the need to upload it. (This practice is not without controversy, due to the security risks it creates and because it makes it possible for users to be targeted in file-sharing suits.)
Read the entire article at WIRED