Not sure, but it looks like Apple/Jobs have set up something that’s revolutionary in the world of digital copyright; the pending iCloud service, built into the next versions of IOS (5) and OS X (Lion), will allow users, for free, to move copies of iTunes music among digital devices. Purchased iTunes songs can only move to 10 devices, but one would assume that all other content is endlessly copyable.
Suggests that the announcements of deals with the music companies had less to do with iTunes streaming and more to do with getting something set up to avoid the copyright issue? Apparently, if you’ve ripped the song yourself, and it exists in the iTunes store, then… (waiting)… a matching process takes place and if it’s in the library, then first the song is converted to AAC DRM free (but you have to pay $25/yr — so it may be streaming-like after all) — plus no indication of the disposition of your original ripped song.
A linchpin of iTunes in the Cloud, as the new music service is called, is that Apple has reached deals with the major record labels and music publishers to license their recordings. Amazon and Google offer similar music services.
But because those two companies did not obtain licenses from the labels, users have to upload their own music libraries — and any new song purchases — to the Web before they can access them on other devices. The process can take hours, if not days, for people with large collections.
By cementing the deals with the music industry, Apple can save users that time-consuming step. What is more, Apple, which is already the world’s largest distributor of music, is expected to find a ready audience in its millions of iTunes users, virtually guaranteeing that its service will leapfrog the offerings from Amazon and Google.
The service acknowledges a well-known fact — that most music on iPods, iPhones and iPads was ripped or swapped. Apple reached a deal that gives recording companies more than 70 percent of the new fees, addressing a dark secret that has crippled the music industry, and provides them with some economic payback.
Where Apple is able to identify and match songs from its 18 million-song database, it will transfer them into the user’s iCloud, a storage area housed on servers, including those at a massive new data center in North Carolina.
“The chances are awfully good that we’ve got the songs in our store that you’ve ripped,” Jobs said.
Where songs can’t be identified — say of bootlegged concert recordings — users can manually upload them to the cloud and gain the same access.
I guess that the MP3.com name was already taken, but I’d be curious to understand what’s in the contract that Apple arranged with the music companies to avoid the things that took MP3.com down. (Update: see “Unlicensed: Are Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player illegal?“)