Mar 302011

Amazon has launched a new service called Amazon Cloud Drive, and several companies are not happy with it at all. Google and Apple aren’t happy, but only because they were planning on having it first – until Amazon beat them to the punch. Indeed, the companies that are frustrated the most by this are the major music labels and their bully company, the Recording Industry Association of America.

Amazon’s Internet-based storage is not the first implementation of this method of storing music files. suffered from the RIAA’s wrath for doing effectively the same thing. Not having the bank account or lawyers that Amazon has, capitulated. This time, however, Amazon has a bigger army of lawyers, a larger bank account, and an Internet public that is more understanding of cloud storage.

The RIAA is, as usual, looking at this from a completely absurd view. They are viewing this service as “broadcasting” for which they will undoubtedly attempt to sue Amazon for broadcasting fees.  Amazon Cloud Drive, however, has nothing to do with broadcasting and the RIAA has no basis for any ire or legal threats against Amazon.

Amazon Cloud Drive is effectively this: a massive hard drive. That’s it. When you purchase an MP3 or a CD from Amazon, Amazon is allowing you to store the files from that purchase on their systems. But they are also providing you with a front-end music player for the web and Android to allow you play the music that you legally purchased anywhere you have an Internet connection.  That, however, does not constitute broadcasting.

Do you need to pay the RIAA broadcast fees when you listen to MP3s that are stored on your hard drive? Do you need to pay the RIAA broadcast fees when you play your MP3s on your phone, tablet, or MP3 player? Do you need to pay the RIAA broadcast fees when you play your MP3s that are stored on a central file server or media server in your home?

Obviously the answer to each of those questions is “no”. By the same logic, Amazon is an ethereal hard drive or file server allowing you to access your music files when you want them. They are by no means a “broadcaster” by any definition.

Speaking of definitions, Webster’s Dictionary defines a “broadcast” as:

adj \ˈbrȯd-ˌkast\
1: cast or scattered in all directions
2: made public by means of radio or television
3: of or relating to radio or television broadcasting

Amazon Cloud Service isn’t streaming your data for anyone to hear and it certainly is not making your files public by means of a transmission that anyone can listen to. So, the RIAA has no right to demand broadcast fees when Amazon is doing nothing more than acting as a data repository, regardless of the nature of the files. (Amazon has also said that Cloud Service can be used for any files, not just music.) Of course, how can we expect logic from an organization whose members are suing Limewire for $75 trillion dollars, which is five times greater than the GDP of the United States?

No matter how the RIAA tries to spin this, they’re wrong. Amazon doesn’t owe them a thing.