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May 29, 2006

Running Your Own MP3.Com? [9:54 pm]

This looks like a fight in the making — if the record industry is foolish enough to make it one: Digital music finds some locker room

A number of companies have created online content “lockers” where users can upload their digital media files for storage that they can subsequently access from multiple devices.

Examples include Oboe, created by MP3Tunes founder Michael Robertson, and MediaMax, from Streamload. Oboe offers unlimited storage of music-only files for a flat fee of $40 per year, while MediaMax will store 25 GB worth of music, video and photos for free, with up to 1,000 gigabytes for $30 per month.

[...] Like anything else in the digital music industry, the concept isn’t quite as simple as those trying to sell it might like. Music wrapped in certain types of digital rights management (DRM) technology — such as Apple’s Fairplay — can’t be streamed from these lockers. Neither can tethered downloads acquired from subscription music services like Napster or Rhapsody.

Yet another digital locker company, Navio, is circumventing this with a different approach. Instead of marketing to consumers, Navio partners with content owners — including Sony BMG, TVT Records, Fox Sports and the Walt Disney Group — to create online sales portals. Consumers buying music through these outlets can download their purchases in new formats as they need to. If someone switches from an iPod to a Creative Zen Micro, they can get a new version of the still-copy-protected song without having to repurchase it. The service is like buying the rights to a file rather than the file itself.

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