A recent decision in the lawsuit against Michael Robertson’s user-uploaded-music locker MP3Tunes.com could have profound implications for the use of media in the cloud—if it stands, profoundly good ones. Music label Capitol Records sued the company for enabling piracy, and attempted to argue that it didn’t qualify for “safe harbor” under the DMCA’s copyright provisions. A judge mostly disagreed—essentially, he said that MP3Tunes was in the clear except on essentially one point. And though a number of places have been spinning that one point as a RIAA “victory”, in actuality the victories for MP3Tunes far outnumber it.
That one point is that, although MP3Tunes removed links to pirated content on its site when it found them, it didn’t remove the content from users’ accounts when it in fact had the ability to do so and the knowledge that content was pirated. However, except for that (and for a matter of CEO Robertson himself uploading some pirated material to his own account), the judge found nothing wrong with the business model on which MP3Tunes was founded.
Record labels had objected to a “de-duplicating” process that allowed duplicate copies of music uploaded independently by users to be rendered equivalent and share the same space on the servers’ hard drives, thus saving disk space. However, the judge found that the locker “is precisely the type of system routinely protected by the DMCA safe harbor(s).”
This means that Amazon, Google, Apple, and anyone else who wants to run a file locker for user-uploaded music (or, by extension, movies, documents, and e-books) doesn’t have to worry about getting permission from music labels or anyone else. As long as the uploads are for users’ own personal use, not shared with anyone else, they’re in the clear.
(Found via BoingBoing.)