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EMI Says Online File Storage Is Illegal 405

Posted by kdawson
from the you-will-play-only-what-you-rent-from-us dept.
WiglyWorm writes "MP3tunes CEO Michael Robertson sent out an email to all users of the online music backup and place-shifting service MP3tunes.com, asking them to help publicize EMI's ridiculous and ignorant lawsuit against the company. EMI believes that consumers aren't allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service."
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EMI Says Online File Storage Is Illegal

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  • Unfortunately (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ricebowl (999467) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @05:47AM (#23169130)

    EMI believes that consumers aren't allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service.

    Sadly, in some markets, he's probably correct. I can't speak for America, though I'd assume the Fair Use doctrine would apply, but in the UK I'm fairly certain that it's still, albeit perhaps only technically, illegal [wikipedia.org] (sorry, I couldn't find a more authoritative source) to copy CDs for any purpose, whether for transfer to an iPod for practical purposes or simply as an archival backup.

    I'd hazard a guess, insofar as I'd want to try and infer reason in the minds of music executives, that online storage is probably perceived as being equal to distribution via p2p. I hope that, some day, a music company might at least try to employ someone familiar with IT. Presumably it'd save them a little time and money.

    • Re:Unfortunately (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @05:54AM (#23169158) Homepage
      IMHO this makes a lot of sense. You can do whatever the hell you want with the CD you purchased - the only thing you cannot do is make a copy of it, with limited exceptions for fair dealing. That's traditionally how copyright law worked and it's how it still applies to books. It just needs to be explicit that the temporary copy made in the memory of the CD player or the computer to play the music does not infringe copyright.

      Of course, the publishers want to have it both ways - at some times to insist on a strict interpretation of traditional copyright, and at others to insist that what you bought is a 'licence' rather than a CD or computer program, and they can restrict you even further than copyright allows.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by electrictroy (912290)
        >>>"the publishers want to have it both ways - at some times to insist on a strict interpretation of traditional copyright, and at others to insist that what you bought is a 'licence' rather than a CD or computer program, and they can restrict you even further than copyright allows."

        I've found that assassination is an effective way to deal with dictators... including CEOs. The record execs have not reached that stage where they deserve to die, but if they continue "eating out" the substance of our
      • One of the main things you CAN do with your purchases of CDs and DVDs is to make back-up copies. You can even make the copy and store the original somewhere safe, using the copy in your DVD/CD player. That USE is only FAIR.
        • No kidding. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moryath (553296)
          This is no different from any other online backup [google.com] service that will copy the file contents of your hard drive (or flash drive, DVD-rom, pretty much whatever you point it at) for retrieval later. And they're all 100% legal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cgenman (325138)
        In the US "fair use" actually covers quite a bit of ground, including making copies for your car and shifting from CD to MP3 player.

        The way our legal system is supposed to work, is that Side A lays out an obviously BS interpretation of the rules, Side B lays out a similar but diametrically opposed BS interpretation, and the courts try to find a middle ground. So far in the US, it has been that Side A lays out an obviously BS interpretation, then buys a ton of lobbyist time to get that codified into law. S
    • Re:Unfortunately (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @05:58AM (#23169172) Homepage

      I'd hazard a guess, insofar as I'd want to try and infer reason in the minds of music executives, that online storage is probably perceived as being equal to distribution via p2p
      Ah, but there's a vital difference because with P2P you transfer the copy to a different legal entity. If I rent a bank deposit box, the bank may be handling the copy but it remains my copy. Is MP3tunes allowed to offer a "mp3 vault" for my music? Apart from being a much more specialized service, it is any different than any other online backup solution? I haven't bothered to read the specifics but I hardly think it'll be the same case as P2P.
      • "Is MP3tunes allowed to offer a "mp3 vault" for my music?"

        Don't see why not since I can rent storage for my DVD collection and have the company ship them to whatever location. I think EMI are objecting mainly to the fact that the user has the 'key' to the safe and can therefore allow others to use it to bypass EMI's toll.
    • Re:Unfortunately (Score:5, Interesting)

      by will_die (586523) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:08AM (#23169230) Homepage
      There is no fair use about this.
      EMI is saying when you upload a file to an on-line site you are lossing posestion of the file and it is entering the possestion of the site you uploaded the file too. It the uploader is still claiming rights to the file then a copy was made. Making an additional copy of the music is a right that only EMI can give. Never mind that all the music upload was not from EMI.
      mp3tunes case was that they were not sharing the files, only available to the uploader, and they did nothing with the files except provide backup protection and allow the uploader purchaser access to them.
      The lower court has already decided on this in favor of mp3tunes. This was back in March, the item released today was more in the area of a press release.

      Then as you say this will boil down to laws not keeping up with the way technology is going. Chances are in most states in the US and most other countries EMI is probably right in the law.
      • by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:36AM (#23169378) Homepage
        Next thing you know, they'll be suing Apple because the Time Machine app makes copies of copyrighted music!
        • by sdnoob (917382)
          not only that, but the ipod and every other mp3 player plays COPIES of music, not the original CD.. the very device that drives legal sales of digital music can be illegally used to play copies of CD's. oh, my..

          next, they'll argue that SPEAKERS connected to an audio device constitutes DISTRIBUTION and/or public performance (even in your home) if someone other than the actual owner of the CD is listening. want to use a headphone splitter so you and your partner can listen to the same music next time you fly
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      in the UK I'm fairly certain that it's still, albeit perhaps only technically, illegal (sorry, I couldn't find a more authoritative source) to copy CDs for any purpose, whether for transfer to an iPod for practical purposes or simply as an archival backup.

      No, that's wrong, there's a whole range of types of copying that are legal in the UK, described in Section 3 [opsi.gov.uk] of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Whether they apply specifically to CD ripping for the purpose of enjoying music you own is d

  • by Auckerman (223266)
    While I'll simplify it down some, here are the two most important things you need to know about copyright.

    Making copies of works that you didn't create is illegal unless you are doing it for personal use (fair use, there's a whole set up things that fall in this catagory).

    Making copies of works you didn't create for the purposes earning money is illegal unless you have the copyright holders permission.

    The problem is run into in the nature of the service being offered. This isn't merely storage, they are di
    • by daveime (1253762) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:28AM (#23169340)
      The problem is run into in the nature of the service being offered. This isn't merely storage, they are distributing the works.

      They are NOT distributing it !!!

      Distribute - verb (used with object), -uted, -uting.

      1. to divide and give out in shares; deal out; allot.
      2. to disperse through a space or over an area; spread; scatter.
      3. to promote, sell, and ship or deliver (an item or line of merchandise) to individual customers, esp. in a specified region or area.
      4. to pass out or deliver (mail, newspapers, etc.) to intended recipients.
      5. to divide into distinct phases: The process was distributed into three stages.
      6. to divide into classes: These plants are distributed into 22 classes.

      They are not dividing the file into pieces, nor sharing it amongst any other parties. They are merely serving it back to the original owner when requested. I would imagine that definitions 3 and 4 could apply, but ONLY in the context of the original owner ... no plurals involved.

      Your argument is like accusing a bank of "distributing" your money when you pay a cheque into the bank and then use an ATM at a different branch to withdraw the SAME money that BELONGS TO YOU !!!

      The way it seems to run, this isn't a common carrier thing that is being run in good faith, like say any random hosting company, this is a company that is advertising that it will distribute copies of music that you bought from someone else to you on any device you want.

      There's that word again :-( You really don't get it do you ?

      That changes the rules, they can't do that without a license, even if you have 5000 copies at home.

      When I purchase a CD, fair use says I may make backup copies for my own personal use. It does not dictate that those backup copies MUST remain within my own home, otherwise anyone with a cassette tape in their car that they copied from a CD they own would also be "breaking the law" everytime the car left the driveway.

      If I choose to put my copies in a bank, they remain my property, and the bank does not "distribute" them to ANY third party. Likewise if I choose to store my data in an online file storage repository, and said repository ONLY returns that data to me when I supply MY username and password, it is exactly the same thing.

      Don't let your shortsightedness blind you to the reality ... a URL with "mp3" in it does not automatically equate to "file sharing".
      • I think distribution would come in if you were to give your password and account to someone else. I think all the company would need to do at that point is to put it into the EULA (?) that you can't give your password out or you can be sued for breaking copyright laws. I think the passing of passwords and accounts is more what the copyright issue is about.
    • by Xest (935314)
      So is uploading to a secure FTP site and downloading from wherever else I am classed as distribution on behalf of whoever hosts my FTP site?

      Of course your argument is based on the idea that it's for moving around copyrighted content from the big labels but why is that the case any more so than my ISPs FTP space they provide me? I could just as well be moving files that I made myself and own the copyright to. Taking in the wider context like this it must be realised that this kind of case has wide ranging im
    • by MartinG (52587) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:56AM (#23169500) Homepage Journal
      > Making copies of works that you didn't create is illegal unless you are doing it for personal use (fair use, there's a whole set up things that fall in this catagory).

      No. Making copies of works that you are not the copyright holder of is illegal, unless you have a license to do so (for example, creative commons license, or the license a record company holds for a musicians work) or unless you don't need a license for other reasons. (There are quite a few reasons. Fair use is one example. See the laws for more)

      The points you have listed are not "things you need to know about copyright." but more like "things you need to know about how the old fashioned greedy corporations choose to use copyright in many cases"
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chill (34294)
        One of the "exceptions" you mention...

        The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 explicitly gives people the right to make personal, non-commercial copies of music they own (in the form of a tape, album, CD, etc.). The Senate commentary that accompanied the passage of that bill specifically addressed making copies for family members or use in a car.
    • by MadJo (674225) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @07:10AM (#23169596) Homepage Journal
      How is storing something remotely the same as distributing it?
      The only thing I see this service do, is offer you a location somewhere else to store your music, so that you can listen to it on a different computer (such as for instance a work-pc).
      They don't distribute it to anyone else.
      Each user has his/her own password protected account on which they can store their music or any other file-type for that matter, it's not limited to music, I don't think.

      So, saying that is illegal, will make for instance Amazon's S3 storage solutions also illegal, or other off-site storage solutions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621)

      The problem is run into in the nature of the service being offered. This isn't merely storage, they are distributing the works. The way it seems to run, this isn't a common carrier thing that is being run in good faith, like say any random hosting company, this is a company that is advertising that it will distribute copies of music that you bought from someone else to you on any device you want. That changes the rules, they can't do that without a license, even if you have 5000 copies at home.

      This is the

  • by frkbros44 (1269342) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:04AM (#23169204) Homepage
    I submit that the most siginficant aspect of this story is that it demonstrates now the artificial market interference of the "anti-piracy" enforcers is already being used to arbitrarily restrict user freedoms in areas that are only incidentally related to the purpose of copyrights.

    This kind of rippling ramification will become ever more common as the legacy duplication and distribution industries get ever more desperate in protecting their obsolote business model from technological progress.
  • ...from EMI, or any of their ilk? They have to take this stance, no matter how inane in and of itself in this particular situation, because anything which remotely gives the consumer the overt or even tacit appearance of 'control' over music is anathema to their desire to re-vision their 'IP' as a 'pay-per-play' resource.
  • iTunes is illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:10AM (#23169250) Journal
    I don't even understand how they can say this. If there isn't a copyright infringement going on here (I'd understand that), then what's the problem? By saying this, they're illegalizing the entire online music business? Some holding EMI's own music, like iTunes.

    Or is this about some obscure difference between online storage and online storage?
    • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:33AM (#23169358) Journal
      "Or is this about some obscure difference between online storage and online storage?"

      Yes.

      One makes EMI some money.
      One does not.

      Inda says EMI is illegal.
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        But since this isn't about copyright infringement (right?? I'm still a bit confused), EMI has earned money on the customer already, so I'd say they have made their money when they sold their music to the customer that put it in an online storage. *shrug*
    • by sedmonds (94908)
      iTunes is licensed by the copyright holder to distribute copies of songs, under specified circumstances. Without a license to distribute EMI songs, it's entirely possible that EMI has a case under current copyright law.
  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:21AM (#23169298) Journal
    I can't find anything in the woefully short article or the summary that supports the claim of the title.
  • and, all of them are legal files - video depos and pleadings.

    The file-format boy to shove it.
  • by teh kurisu (701097) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @06:34AM (#23169360) Homepage

    EMI wants to gain access to copies of files that users have on their MP3tunes accounts. Now, I'm assuming that you can't just go in and browse the list of files that a user has, otherwise they'd have shot themselves in the foot by arguing on privacy grounds.

    So I'm assuming that EMI came along and said, "We want all the MP3s stored in user X's account." As it's unlikely that any user has an account filled 100% with EMI music, EMI would be given access to a significant amount of music from other labels, without the consent of the copyright holders. Which seems very hypocritical, even if it's legitimised by a court order.

  • E.M.I,? (Score:3, Informative)

    by flyneye (84093) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @07:39AM (#23169724) Homepage
    Don't judge a book just by the cover
    Unless you cover just another
    And blind acceptance is a sign
    Of stupid fools who stand in line
    Like

    E.M.I
    E.M.I
    E.M.I --Sex Pistols

  • by Panaqqa (927615) * on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @08:06AM (#23169886) Homepage
    If I were coding this site, complete with online backup of purchased tunes, there's no way I'd actually keep 89,227 copies of Britney Spears' latest toxic waste on my servers at 4MB (give or take) per copy. No, I'd keep a DB table of links to one master copy of the file, possibly replicated across multiple servers depending on traffic levels. This would likely be the same file that would be downloaded in the event of a purchase. Call me an old fashioned developer but despite 20 cent per gig storage, I still refuse to waste it on unneeded duplication of files.

    So, almost certainly their backup service is a massive shared folder that all their backup service users have access to. Large shared folder? Multi-user access? Starting to sound a bit more like the loathed P2P the record labels love to hate, isn't it?

    Funny note: CAPTCHA word for this post was "AVARICE".
    • by Kintar1900 (901219) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @08:50AM (#23170272) Homepage

      If I were coding this site... Call me an old fashioned developer but despite 20 cent per gig storage, I still refuse to waste it on unneeded duplication of files.

      Then not only are you an old-fashioned developer, you're a lousy old-fashioned developer with no knowledge of the wider world your software is operating within. Security and legal concerns (especially legal concerns) trump the $0.00078 savings, by your estimated storage price, per copy of "Toxic". This is especially true when the architecture you're discussing would cost more time and money to implement than the safer version, what with the necessity of acoustic fingerprinting or some other technology to make sure that User1's "Britney Spears - Toxic.mp3" is the same as User2's "Toxic - Britney Spears (ub3r h0t ch1ck).mp3" is the same as User3's "251 - BS - TOXIC.mp3".

      So, almost certainly their backup service is a massive shared folder that all their backup service users have access to.

      Please, by all that's holy, tell me you're just over-simplifying for the masses. Actually, don't tell me that, because there's only two options here:

      1. 1. You're over simplifying a complicated technology, just like the idiots at EMI/SonyBMG/ do to confuse the non-technical people judging a case, or
      2. 2. You're not even a developer (or are someone who's written a half-dozen PHP scripts for their buddy's website and thinks they're a developer) and are just blowing smoke on this topic.
      Either way, this absurd and technically inappropriate answer isn't doing anything except to muddy the waters. Please leave that to the professionals at EMI.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noidentity (188756)

        Then not only are you an old-fashioned developer, you're a lousy old-fashioned developer with no knowledge of the wider world your software is operating within. Security and legal concerns (especially legal concerns) trump the $0.00078 savings, by your estimated storage price, per copy of "Toxic". This is especially true when the architecture you're discussing would cost more time and money to implement than the safer version, what with the necessity of acoustic fingerprinting or some other technology to ma

    • So you would rather waste developer's time, which costs actual money, to create a system where people would get back the same music, with the same ID3 tags and the same name, and where those files were somehow created from a digital library of music and a db of what the file looked like when the user uploaded it?

      Yeah, great idea. Call me old-fashioned, but complex solutions to non-problems are bad. Storage is so cheap now that it's practicaly free. Think of it as free, and stop wasting resources that are ac
  • by Anna Merikin (529843) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @08:43AM (#23170224) Journal

    In a related development, the U.S. FDIC has ruled that it is illegal to keep dollar bills of any denomination in banks. Details to follow....

  • remember mp3.com? (Score:3, Informative)

    by kharchenko (303729) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @09:12AM (#23170474)
    Well, there's a precedent for what these douchebags are saying. Let's not forget that they've already sued a company like that out of existence - mp3.com.
  • What is online? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @11:04AM (#23171834)
    Please define online.

    If I buy a CD and I put it in my PC, I will be able to access it through ssh and thus it is online. So even though nobody else can access it, it is a CD I bought I am not able to put the CD in my machine, because it is connected to the Interwebs.
  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @12:29PM (#23173016)

    First and foremost EMI/RIAA/etc, we are not CONSUMERS , we are CUSTOMERS . Please correct your spelling.

    We do not "consume" music, we do not "consume" goods. We are not an organism that feeds on these digital goods like a virus.

    Second, once you start treating us like customers, we will then begin behaving like them.

  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @03:56PM (#23175334)
    Much in the same way as the music bigwigs think P2P = infringement (it is a file distribution protocol, and nothing else), all mp3 files are not necessarily infringing. I could make mp3 files of my own music, sound effects I've created (or royalty-free sfx), perhaps a personal audio diary, etc., etc. Unless the file names are blatantly obvious, how would anyone know their content without downloading and listening to every one? So now they want mp3 files to be banned from remote online storage because they might be (or even probably are) copyrighted material? Where does that stop? That's like saying that since most child porn images are in JPG format, therefore storing JPGs online is illegal.

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