Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Amazon: 'Look Ma, No Licenses'

It is a blood sport now.

You can now store over 5 GB of music and video for free, courtesy of Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player.

According to multiple sources, Amazon has not secured a license from the record label for either.  And it is precisely the artist's lunch that is being eaten here.

This is because, despite the de rigeur user agreement, illegal downloads are given equal credence to legal ones in the Player (I just tested it for music).  No attempt at all was made to weed out illegal content (and yes, the technology is available).

What this instantly means is that:
a) over a billion illegal downloads currently in users' possession will be given even more value by being given this state-of-art, "anywhere" access.
b) if you are a user and you want to add a new song to your Amazon digital locker or your Google Android device, the choice will remain as before:  free vs. paid ... and free will win every time.

Another bonus for your illegal downloads is the services of the embedded Gracenote.  In fact, the only two approved purposes of the Player according to the terms of agreement are "management and playback of content".  So you can take all those illegal mp3s that came in from the wild and manage them into more usable shape (e.g. adding album art where there was none before), courtesy of Amazon.

What is to stop you from cramming the entire 5 GB with nothing but ill-gotten goods ? Practically, nothing.  Just a few measly words in a user agreement. The same words that were in the Napster, Kazaa and Limewire agreements.

The user agreement also states that the Player is only available in the U.S.  But watch out, World, this stuff is radioactive!

And in other news today, global music revenues fell 8.4% last year.

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