Amazon in a Cloud of Its Own: Internet Mogul Grips Unsteady Lead in Cloud Computing

Towards the end of March 2011, Amazon released its cloud computing system to the world. The system is the first consumer technology of its kind that users can purchase for uploading their documents, presentations, and music to the internet with cloud computing technology.

Cloud computing moves the online experience from the confines from a physical data center to a “cloud,” or an online environment where users can store, manage, upload , and download information for use. Amazon is the first online retailer to make cloud technology available directly to consumers with storage for music media.

Many other corporations, like Microsoft, have provided cloud technology for business enterprise purposes. Even federal agencies have begun transferring to cloud technology to save money in operating expenses for hardware resources and IT costs.

With Amazon’s cloud computing users can upload information on an Amazon Cloud Drive for a pay-as-you-go fee to make the information available on their IPADs, computers, laptops, mobile phones, and other technological devices. Alternatively, without cloud computing technology, users would normally have to transfer data between these various technology devices, or sync their devices to access their information manually.

Amazon’s Cloud Computing strives to eliminate restrictions in the flexibility of the way that users access and work with their own information. It aims to make a way for users to take technology wherever they go without being chained to one specific technological device, because information is automatically available without syncing.

Although Amazon has many consumers who are fans of the introduction of cloud computing technology, some of its major critics include Sony Music and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who complain that Amazon failed to obtain song licenses prior to opening its Cloud Music Player to the public. These recording industry giants claim Amazon is liable for copyright infringement, if it continues without purchasing song and movie licenses.

Amazon’s Cloud Music Player permits users to upload their songs to digital library for playback on their Android phones, their laptops, and tablets, as long as they install the appropriate Amazon app. Also, users may purchase MP3 songs from Amazon that they can store on the Cloud Player as well. The Cloud Player consists of 5GB of free digital storage that can be upgraded to up to 20GB, if a user purchases an Amazon MP3 album.

Basically, Amazon’s Cloud Player re-introduces the issue of digital rights management, a key concern in copyright law, which says corporations have control over the purpose for the usage of digital files. In other words, companies believe users should pay for the same download multiple times, when users wish to use their downloads on their iPADs, iPODs, and computers.

This idea of digital rights management is the reason why many consumers have resorted to “hacking” their iPODs, opening their iPOD systems, so that they may play songs downloaded from iTunes on their laptops and PCs. Moreover, corporations lose profits in missed opportunities to charge licensing fees, when users transfer songs to be played on multiple devices.

On the contrary, users and consumer technology groups argue that when a user buys a download, the user should not be charged multiple times for the same download, since the user has already purchased the rights to the download. For example, these advocate groups believe when a user downloads a song onto their iPAD, that user has already purchased the rights to play the song on his or her iPhone.

Unfortunately, record companies disagree, and their disagreement has long led an intense copyright litigation debate over whether the user or the record corporation has the right to control digital rights to a song, after it is purchased and downloaded once. This digital rights management applies to Amazon’s Cloud Player, because the player allows users to hear their previously purchased songs wherever and on whatever devices they wish without obtaining permission from recording corporations, or paying additional licensing fees.

Because Sony Music and other music entertainment corporations stand to lose a large amount in profits, technology industry analysts assume Amazon increased its vulnerability to copyright infringement litigation as previous predecessors, like MP3Tunes.com, which has been embroiled in three year lawsuit for copyright infringement. No corporation has filed any lawsuits against Amazon for copyright infringement, so Amazon continues to push everyone to its cloud.

Sources:

Eric Knorr. “What Cloud Computing really means…,” InfoWorld.com.

Greg Sandoval. “Amazon’s cloud risks war with labels, studios,” CNET.com.

Jacqui Cheng. “Music Industry will force licenses on Amazon Cloud Player –or else,” Arstechnical.com.

Rob Pegoraro. “Will Amazon’s Cloud Player, the network is the cable,” WashingtonPost.com.