Monday 8 August 2011

Why did Google launch its cloud service without licences?

I’ve been sitting on a story from BusinessWeek from two months ago when the magazine reported that Google offered the major record labels $100 million to obtain licenses for its new cloud music service, but that one of the reasons that talks broke down was that the labels wanted Google to be more proactive in the fight against digital piracy. Google then launched a cloud locker service – without licences - and the legality of that has yet to be tested in the US courts. It is also interesting that Google filed a Amici curiae brief back in January in support of the defendant in the main case looking at this issue, EMI v MP3Tunes. MP3tunes operates a digital cloud “locker” service and is being sued by the major labels.

CNET asks why the labels would pass up big dollars for antipiracy considerations. Whether the story is true or not, it is clear that the large entertainment companies are trying to pressure Google to make changes – and the news of the new scheme brokered in the USA with the major ISPs means to me that this story makes more sense now. As the top Internet search engine, Google is believed to be in a position to make it more to difficult to find pirated materials online, for example the company's ads are often found on sites accused of trafficking in pirated or counterfeited materials. To be fair, Google has already agreed to a series of changes, and those include booting alleged copyright violators off AdSense, and blocking terms associated with piracy from appearing in the search engine's Autocomplete function, but maybe the record labels and other content providers recent success with ISPs in the USA mean that they are now prepared to take a tougher line when it comes to Google’s current stance.

Read more: and see US content industry and ISPs agree to be alert in Music Law Updates, August 2011 and see

Capitol Records, LLC. et al v MP3Tunes, LLC., and Michael Robertson
No. 07 Civ 9931 United States District Court Southern District of New York

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