Skip to navigation
Latest News

Music industry split over iCloud "piracy amnesty"

music

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 7 Jun 2011 at 15:52

Music industry commentators have blasted Apple over an element in its newly-launched iCloud service that they described as a “music piracy amnesty.”

The iCloud service will store music from iTunes and other files on Apple's servers, to be accessed from Apple devices anywhere. Those wanting to use iCloud with music from other sources can pay $25/year for iTunes Match, which scans your hard drive for tracks, and then matches them with an iTunes version of the song online - regardless of where the original track came from.

Unveiled yesterday, the system has already been criticised by some in the music industry for legitimising illegally downloaded copies of songs.

If you can legally park your stolen car in my garage will you rush out and actually pay for your own car?

According to rights lawyer Michael Speck, who ran the music industry's court case against file-sharing network Kazaa, the service is a $25 alibi.

"If you can store all your pirate content you won't need to buy content will you?" said Speck told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Let me put it this way: if you can legally park your stolen car in my garage will you rush out and actually pay for your own car?"

"Putting aside that, this means a 1,000 song catalogue will only cost the pirate 2.5c a song, there is no way that Apple could fairly compensate the actual victims and still take its cut," he said.

Meanwhile, a BBC Twitter feed quoted digital content firm Rovi, which works with Apple, as saying iCloud was "a $25 a year amnesty on those who have illegally copied music".

Introduction to legal services

However, the dissent isn't universal, with one recording industry insider telling PC Pro off the record that music companies might welcome the move.

With Apple expected to take a 30% cut of the iTunes Match fee and pass the rest on to the industry, the recording industry will now get some income from tracks that have already been downloaded and are effectively “economically sterile”.

The insider also said iTunes Match could encourage users with a chequered downloading past to get involved with legal music services.

For further coverage of cloud computing visit our sister site Cloud Pro.

Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

Good grief...

It sounds very much like Michael Speck is an idiot: "If you can store all your pirate content you won't need to buy content will you?"
No,and I wouldn't need to buy content without Apple's storage, so what exactly is his point?

And the stolen car analogy is just pathetic, not just because it also holds no water, but because yet again he is comparing copyright infringement with the theft of tangible goods. This worthless argument alone would be enough to turn me to piracy.

By The_Scrote on 7 Jun 2011

Stupid, stupid, stupid

"if you can legally park your stolen car in my garage will you rush out and actually pay for your own car?"

What a ridiculous analogy, that just goes to show how daft this argument is. iTunes Match doesn't legitimise tracks that have been acquired illegally, any more than storing a stolen car in someone's garage with their permission negates the illegality of the theft. Do you think the courts will accept "it's not copyright infringement because Apple let me use iTunes Match to access a copy of my illicitly obtained track from somewhere else" any more than the police will accept "it's okay, I nicked the car but my mate said I can keep it round at his place"?

All iTunes match does is effectively place shift your iTunes library, which may contain any mix of iTMS downloads, legitimate CD rips, non-iTunes (Amazon / 7 Digital etc.) downloads, rips of friends' CDs and pirate downloads. Matching them with Match doesn't affect that mix.

By flyingbadger on 7 Jun 2011

It was my understanding that this service would scan your music for downloads which have been legally purchased from Apples competitiors (which apparently use a lower bit-rate) and re-supply them to you in 256Kbps.

By Anonymouse on 7 Jun 2011

@Anonymouse, nope, there's no way it can distinguish an illegal MP3 from (say) a legal Amazon MP3 or one you've ripped yourself from CD. It scans your entire iTunes library, regardless of legitimacy of source. Whether it does this by simply looking at tags or actually scans the tracks a la Shazaam! is unknown, but this being Apple I'm sure it will be slick and polished.

By flyingbadger on 7 Jun 2011

@The_Scrote - couldn't agree more. On the first pass I actually missed the fact that Spack is apparently a media lawyer - surely he must understand the points you and I have made, they're hardly rocket science.

By flyingbadger on 7 Jun 2011

So basically this guy wants to make legit customers suffer because of piracy (which will happen anyway)?

By tech3475 on 7 Jun 2011

@flying badger

I see you're right, I seem to have mis-read the source.

That being said, I disagree that they couldn't tell an MP3 that has been downloaded from Amazon, as opposed to one that has came from less official sources.

Although; it would obviously not be very hard to trick any such measures.


I just can't see how they could 'legitimise' vast amounts of unofficially-acquired music.

Surely they are going to have to *try* to do something?

I know people who have probably got a bigger library than Apple themselves... with virtually none of it acquired legitimately.

By Anonymouse on 7 Jun 2011

Laws different in this country

People do remember that ripping CDs is allowed in the USA under fair use laws but it is still technically illegal here. Whilst it's not a concern for most individuals as there's virtually no way to police it, it should be of concern to Apple as they are effectively taking part in the copyright infringement.

By TheBigM72 on 7 Jun 2011

This is not a bad thing!

For several years the music industry has been refusing to find a reasonable way to adapt to the reality on the ground. Apple is the largest reseller of digital music and it would seem they have made the industry an "offer they can't refuse". Given there are 300M+ iPods and iPads in use, there is a significant revenue opportunity for the music industry through this service.
Services like Spotify have already established "all you can eat" pricing for access to unlimited music so this is just another model.

By milliganp on 8 Jun 2011

@TheBigM72

Sony, Apple, Microsoft, etc. all make software which allows you to rip CDs.

They are already taking part in 'piracy' and have been for some time now.

By tech3475 on 8 Jun 2011

@TheBigM72 - actually it isn't illegal, it's just under UK law ripping a CD isn't an automatic right when you buy the CD, whereas in the US and some other jurisdictions it is, under a fair use principle. There is nothing illegal about it if you have the licence-holder's permission. I assume Apple has negotiated with record labels to allow users' legitimately acquired but non-iTMS music (rips from own CDs, MP3s from Amazon etc.) to be transferred to iTunes Match.

I'm absolutely certain that the terms of use will state clearly (if you bother to read them) that iTunes Match is permitted only for legitimately acquired non-iTMS music, and not for pirate copies, but there's no technical mechanism they could use to prevent it. So it doesn't "'legitimise' vast amounts of unofficially-acquired music" - all it does is shift the music you already have (whether acquired legally or otherwise) to the cloud, without changing the legality of that music.

By flyingbadger on 8 Jun 2011

@Anonymouse - Apple could run a checksum of the music against a legitimate Amazon MP3 to make sure the file is bitwise identical, which makes it pretty likely that the file is sourced from Amazon, but that would require Apple to have access to every song on Amazon's database (or at least to a hash value for every song, which Amazon would need to give them), and anyway (unless Amazon gave Apple access to transaction records etc.) doesn't tell if that track was legally purchased from Amazon or copied from a friend or downloaded via bittorrent etc.

Similarly for CD rips - there is no way to tell if an MP3 is my legitimate rip from my own CD or the unlawful but bit-for-bit identical copy I gave to my friend who doesn't own the CD.

By flyingbadger on 8 Jun 2011

@tech3475/TheBigM72 - the argument that iTunes Match facilitates piracy is a rehashing of the old and flawed criticism levelled over the decades against manufacturers of tape decks, VCRs, MP3 players, CD/DVD ripping software, audio codecs and other technologies that the fact that their products allow people to infringe others' copyright makes them de facto accomplices to copyright infringement.

That argument is often compared to suggesting that a gun manufacturer should be held accountable for a murder committed with his product, but to me it goes beyond that - it's as vacuous as arguing that Canon and Nikon are responsible for the child pornography industry because their cameras are used to take indecent images. It's an utterly, utterly absurd argument and quite tasteless.

By flyingbadger on 8 Jun 2011

Good points, well made badger..

Although i'm not quite sure i agree with this bit...

"all it does is shift the music you already have (whether acquired legally or otherwise) to the cloud, without changing the legality of that music."


Unless im reading it wrong again (very possible)

That statemet would only be true for the tunes they DON'T have in their library.

If they do have it in the library then they will attach a 256kbps 'copy' of the tune in question to your account.

That is the bit that seems a bit iffy to me, and I do think it would count as 'legitimising' the unofficial music you may have, bearing in mind you are paying for this service.


That being said, there is surely some good arguments for such actions, as it could be creating a cash flow from otherwise economically sterile music.

By Anonymouse on 8 Jun 2011

I missed your last post....

I don't think that comparison is very apt tbh.

If sony sold me a DVD player and told me if I send them a list of all the films i already own, they will make them available to me online for a nominal fee, then I think your comparison would be more apt.

By Anonymouse on 8 Jun 2011

@Anonymouse - "That is the bit that seems a bit iffy to me, and I do think it would count as 'legitimising' the unofficial music you may have, bearing in mind you are paying for this service."

No. The service (as far as I understand it having watched the keynote) gives you the right, for tracks you LEGITIMATELY OWN, to use a 256kbps copy of those tracks in the cloud. Just because the technology won't be able to stop you from using it to enjoy the iCloud copy of tracks you have acquired illicitly doesn't 'legitimise' those tracks.

I don't really understand what your point is, to be honest.

By flyingbadger on 8 Jun 2011

@Anonymouse - "If sony sold me a DVD player and told me if I send them a list of all the films i already own, they will make them available to me online for a nominal fee, then I think your comparison would be more apt."

I agree. That would be a good analogy if Sony had got a licence from all of the movie studios to give you cloud access to movies of which you own a legitimate DVD or Blu-Ray or download.

It wouldn't make it okay for you to borrow a DVD from a friend to represent to the system that you own it, or show it a bit-torrent download to trick it into giving you permanent access to the cloud version.

My last comparison is not supposed to be a serious comparison, it's a rebuttal of the absurd suggestion that the producer of technology (be it sofware, hardware or services) that has a potential malevolent use is inherently complicit in that malevolence.

Unless something is designed and/or marketed for a criminal use (e.g. flick knives, Trojan Horse devkits, etc.), I don't think the producer should be held accountable, otherwise before you know it we'll be prosecuting manufacturers of kitchen knives and cameras (as in my previous example) for crimes perpetrated using their equipment.

By flyingbadger on 8 Jun 2011

@badger...

Touche!

I'm going to have a little think & research on this and get back to you.

I feel like i've just tbeen verbally slapped round the face :D

I'm sure I have a good and valid point here somewhere...
But i'm beggared if I can get it into words properly.

By Anonymouse on 8 Jun 2011

Just to address one point...

In regards to the point of a "producer should be held accountable"

That's not what I said, nor what I meant.

I said they will have to "try" to do something.

And knives and gun manu's do take measures to ensure their items are not misused (btw; flick knives are highly illegal in UK)




I will be back :)

By Anonymouse on 8 Jun 2011

Alternatively...

Is this just a cunning way of Apple taking the money I have saved by buying my music from cheaper download stores than iTunes (virtually every other seller in fact).

By halsteadk on 8 Jun 2011

I'll give apple one thing....

Right or wrong they have got people talking...

Lot's of people, I am reading chatter from all over about this.

And I will be the first to admit that although I won't be using this service, I am quite impressed by it.

[i wont be using it cos i don't use apple products, not cos of any of my views on piracy... aaarrrghhh]

By Anonymouse on 8 Jun 2011

@Anonymouse - yep some of the alternatives are a lot cheaper than iTunes Music Store, especially the shady ones that offer the bestest price of all (free!)

Anyway, sorry if my remarks came across as a verbal face slapping. That certainly wasn't my intention. I think we're arguing a very similar point from different angles, which is that although LEGALLY iTunes Match won't magically legitimise your illegal downloads, it certainly lends an APPEARANCE of legitimacy, and many users may see this as a piracy amnesty or, as Trusted Reviews rather quaintly put it, "music laundering".

Either way, at least the music industry's share of the $25/year gives them something for pirate music in respect of which previously they've had nothing. The potential for abuse also shouldn't stand in the way of what sounds like a very useful service for bringing together music from a variety of sources in the cloud.

By flyingbadger on 9 Jun 2011

No need to apolgise badger, the 'verbal slap' was a tongue in cheek comment, I like a good debate and you put me on the backfoot good 'n' proper.
I appreciate well versed opinions even when I don't agre with them.

I will point out I am almost playing devils advocate in here, as the way my words read [to me] are almost definitely in contrast to my views on the whole 'piracy' issue.


I have a few pieces to read through and I will post again once I have finished.


***************
on this bit...

"The potential for abuse also shouldn't stand in the way of what sounds like a very useful service for bringing together music from a variety of sources in the cloud."

I agree completely, and infact that ties into what i'm trying to get at.

By Anonymouse on 9 Jun 2011

Speck can't do math

While it may only be 2.5c/year, it's also 10c/4 years. Artists only get paid pennies anyway, so if the customer stays with this service Apple eventually will have the funding to compensate the artists.

If if only half the tracks are illegial that figure rises to 20c/4 years. Which is enough to make a profit. This woudl appear to be a loss leading tactic.

By ANTIcarr0t on 10 Jun 2011

Badger...

I concede mate.

I read through a ton of lit' and can't really come up with a decent rebuttle.

By Anonymouse on 10 Jun 2011

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

advertisement

Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest ReviewsSubscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Real World Computing

advertisement

Sponsored Links
 
SEARCH
Loading
WEB ID
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010
 
 

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.