EMI Says You Can't Backup Your Music Online

Cloud computing is supposed to be the next big tech revolution. One of the basic ideas, for the uninitiated, is that all of your apps and files (docs, pictures, music) are stored online in a digital locker, and you can access them from anywhere, no matter what computer you're using, thus heralding the end of the localized desktop, Windows, etc. MP3Tunes provides a digital locker for backing up music files—it's not a covert file-sharing thing, you can't share a locker with someone, so it's really only for personal backup/place-shifting. The record label EMI says it's illegal and is suing them to turn over all the music stored by the site's users.

We kind of touched on the stickiness issue when we talked about owning vs. licensing eBooks. The crux of this case is that EMI claims users are giving the files to a third party without their permission, so MP3Tunes is infringing on their copyright.

MP3Tunes, however, argues that "files are not MP3tunes' possessions any more than the contents of a safety deposit box are owned by the bank that houses them." And, you're not sharing the files with a million other people. So the usual record label arguments about file-sharing don't quite fit.

Legally, this is kind of a grey, ill-defined area. But cloud computing is coming, so it's going to have to get defined sooner or later, most likely sooner. Personally, I think place-shifting should fall under fair use, but I'm not the one pounding the gavel. [MP3Tunes' Michael Robertson via Consumerist]