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First Look: iTunes in the Cloud

Christopher Breen, | June 7, 2011
What the iCloud feature and iTunes Match bring to the music party

If tracks in your library aren’t available at the iTunes Store, you’re welcome to upload them to Apple’s servers. Also note that iTunes Match limits you to 25,000 tracks (although iTunes purchases are not counted against that limit).

The outstanding question is whether Apple will put any safeguards in place that attempt to identify pirated music and prevent it from being available to those who have it in their music libraries. For example, music you currently purchase from iTunes is unprotected, but it’s watermarked with the name of the purchaser. If you were to take a track purchased by another person and ask Apple to add it to your online collection via iTunes Match, would there be a problem? Or does that annual $25 fee also buy a measure of amnesty from the record labels?

The merits of cooperation

Active lockers aren’t a technical challenge. Rather, they’ve been difficult in the past because of licensing issues. Specifically, the music labels insist that companies must have their permission to make single copies of tunes available to multiple users. Apple has been able to secure that permission while Amazon and Google have not. Instead, Amazon and Google have been forced into the passive locker approach, which, because of the time and bandwidth needed to upload large music libraries, is less than ideal.

Having leapt these licensing issues, Apple is free to pursue other goals—streaming of this stored content, for example, rather than simply offering downloads. Google and Amazon, on the other hand, are a lap behind and looking at either coming up with deals of their own or, worse, spending time in court fighting with the labels.


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