The most notable element of the iCloud is the iTunes Match service that gives users cloud-based access to their full digital music libraries. This includes songs purchased on iTunes as well as any other music files, which will be identified by Apple and made available without the need to upload the copy. Itunes Match has obtained the blessing of the major record labels, who will reportedly receive the lion’s share of the service’s US$24.95 annual fee.
The Apple announcement comes on the heels of newly launched music cloud services from Internet giants Amazon and Google. The Amazon Cloud Player allow users to upload their own music to Amazon’s computer servers and to stream it to any device, while Music Beta by Google similarly involves uploading music files for streaming access. Neither Amazon nor Google obtained licenses for their services, relying instead on their users’ fair use rights to shift their music to the “cloud.”
While the licensing approaches differentiate Apple from its competitors, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues all three cloud music services share a common characteristic when it comes to Canada – none are likely to be available here anytime soon.