CNet reports that Amazon is closing licensing deals with record labels to cover its cloud music service, Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. According to an anonymous source, it has already come to agreements with Universal Music Group, EMI, and Sony Music Entertainment, and is in talks with Warner Music Group. Although Amazon launched its services without licenses, touting fair use rights for users to upload and stream their own content, getting licensed would mean Amazon could add new features that go beyond fair use.

While we don’t know what new features Amazon will offer, the company will likely eliminate the need for users to upload every one of their songs individually to the cloud. Because Apple obtained licenses before launching its cloud service last year, it was allowed to scan a user’s hard drive to identify the music there. The company could then match and stream songs to the user from copies stored in the iTunes’ library, eliminating the tedious uploading.

Amazon couldn’t offer a similar service because the scan-and-match process involves creating and delivering copies of music to users who didn’t technically buy them. Making a copy requires a license, say the labels; otherwise, they argue, such copies violate their copyrights.

That licensing requirement is what killed founder Jon Robertson’s music streaming service offered through, that scanned users’ CDs to verify ownership and then streamed that music to them. It’s a bit ironic that these services from Apple and Amazon are getting the labels’ blessing to do a more modern version of this, especially after legal fees from a largely victorious court battle with record labels forced into bankruptcy Robertson’s new venture, the MP3tunes music locker that pre-dated but offered basically the same thing as Amazon’s unlicensed version.

So how long will it be before we see something like this for e-books, where we can prove we own a physical copy of the book and get granted an electronic copy to read from the cloud? (Pfft, yeah right, like that will happen. But I can daydream.)


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