A federal judge hearing a music industry copyright lawsuit recently issued a ruling that may well open the way for cloud-based music services. In the suit against digital music service MP3tunes, the music industry argued that MP3tunes contributed to copyright violations because it did not delete allegedly unauthorized content from users' digital lockers, even if it did comply with DMCA requirements regarding posting notices of alleged infraction and preventing access to the content in question. Federal District Court Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that MP3tunes, and by inferences other ISP and music services, was not required to investigate whether user content was authorized or not, effectively saying that users are responsible for any copyright infringements, not the ISP, music service, or digital storage facility.
MP3tunes service model is conceptually similar to music-sharing cloud services announced by Amazon, Apple, Google, and others. MP3tunes service allowed users to build online music libraries from a range of online sources for their own use. The current and proposed music cloud services have similar options, storing songs purchased from their online music stores, as well as allowing users to add tracks from their personal collections (in some cloud models, that requires users to upload digital tracks - in others, it is a list of user's songs that is stored, and the service then provides access from a central library to those songs). The ruling basically sets the foundation for consumers to use cloud and similar services to store and access, for their own use, legally acquired music without having to pay an additional licensing fee. The ruling did specifically indicate that this does not mean that users, or services, can share the content with multiple users (unless those other users also have the same file in their digital library), thus upholding the central infringement complaint against users..
Since the ruling is based on the language of the law, and not some specific attribute of music files or service, it should apply to all forms of digital content, digital library services, and services providing users with access to their digital libraries from multiple devices and/or locations. Cloud services can, unless the ruling is reversed, proceed without being held liable for the content placed there by users - setting the stage for rapid expansion and adoption of Cloud services.
Source - MP3tunes/EMI copyright ruling paves way for cloud music services, Fierce Mobile Content