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Cloud-Based Music Services Not Happening in Canada Anytime Soon

cloud-based music servicesWhile everybody in the U.S. is currently talking up Apple’s newly released iCloud music storage system, our neighbors to the north in Canada are singing a different tune, one that tells of no iCloud services being available in the country and one that sees many Canadians a little upset.

The announcement of Apple’s cloud-based music service comes right behind similar announcements from big name companies Amazon and Google, both of which have launched their own versions of a cloud music service. The Amazon cloud player allows users to upload their own music to Amazon’s servers and stream it to any device they wish. Google’s Music Beta does pretty much the same thing as well. However, neither Amazon nor Google obtained licenses for their services.

These licenses are the primary things that separate Apple from Google and Amazon though all three cloud music services share a similar characteristic when it comes to Canada. That characteristic is that none of these services will be available in the country anytime soon.

There are at least three separate legal issues that Canada faces: licensing, levies and the lack of legal flexibility. Each of these three problems could create a significant barrier to the cloud’s entrance into the Canadian market.

While there is nothing to stop all the major record labels from licensing a similar service in Canada, past experiences suggest that it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Pandora has already indicated that it wants to enter the Canadian market but that the incredible licensing prices make it economically impossible. These prices also seem high enough to keep iTunes Match out of the country for the foreseeable future.

This is all because cloud-based music services are centered around users storing copies of their music on the company’s server. Since this requires additional copies of the music, Canadian copyright collectives will more than likely go with the position that they are entitled to receive additional compensation for each copy made.

The problem with that is that these collectives already receive compensation from radio stations for format-shifting music files from CDs to computer hard drives. In addition to that, the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) has just announced that it is seeking to extend the private copying levy to memory cards that are widely used in digital cameras.

Cloud-based music copies seem like the logical next target, especially considering the fact that the CPCC has stated, “the economic value of reproducing music in order to make it portable must be recognized. Rights holders deserve to be compensated for all private copies made of their work, regardless of how a copy is made.”

Even if this levy issue somehow gets resolved, the lack of flexibility with Canada’s current law would create an incredible barrier to all the cloud services offered by Amazon, Google and Apple. Amazon and Google rely on fair use but the Canadian law in this area is way more restrictive than the laws in the United States. Amazon and Google would have a hard time arguing that the Canadian fair dealing provision could be extended to cover this form of copying.

Source: The Star – Geist: Forecast iffy for music cloud services in Canada

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