Earlier this year during the Great Music Locker Race of 2011, one of the big unanswered questions was whether companies like Google, Amazon and Apple needed permission from the record labels to allow users to upload and stream their own music on different devices. Yesterday, a ruling in a case involving a similar service called MP3Tunes paved the way for the companies (and others like them) to continue operating without paying onerous fees to the labels.
To recap: Amazon leapt ahead on the issue in March with its Cloud Drive, skirting the labels and saying it didn't need special licenses-- the users had the right and responsibility to deal with their own files. Some of the majors balked at this logic, suggesting that streaming online necessitated a new licensing arrangement. But after Amazon, Google soon followed suit and launched its own music locker without approval from record labels. Apple, however, struck a deal with the labels for its upcoming iCloud service, which differs from the others by focusing on infinite downloads as opposed to streaming.
With the new ruling, services like Google's and Amazon's will not only be able to allow users to stream their uploaded files, but the companies can keep just one copy of a song on their servers and then allow all users who own that song access to it. If labels can prove that music in a user's library has been pirated, however, the hosting company will be required to take down those files.