Stormy weather for Amazon's cloud services?

Like everybody else who covers media technology, we were excited by yesterday's announcement of Amazon's Cloud Drive remote storage and associated Cloud Player streaming media service. The inevitable morning after is now here, and brings with it serious questions about rights. It turns out that Amazon launched the service without having music streaming licenses in place-the kind of minor hindrance that is apparently keeping the other major players-Google and Apple, in particular-from rolling out their own music streamers.

Amazon's position at this point, as told to Ars Technica, is that Cloud Player simply "lets customers manage and play their own music," and thus shouldn't require a license. The major labels beg to differ, of course, with Sony the first to express displeasure-and since the company says it's "keeping all of [its] legal options open" it may well mean business.

Sony offers it's own subscription-based service, launched with a group of recording industry partners amidst considerable international wrangling over rights, licensing, and collections, so they know this territory quite well. It's not as if Amazon isn't aware of the complexities of copyright, so one assumes the legal team there has done due diligence and has something up its collective sleeve.

Whatever the outcome-and at this point it's difficult to distinguish the actual legal battles from the usual rustling for market position-it's sure to have important implications for the future of cloud storage and streaming services.

- Michael Berk

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