Amazon and Google caused a stir when they launched their cloud music storage initiatives. Rather than following the path Apple eventually would, both companies decided to bypass securing permissions from the record labels, causing quite a tempest in a teapot in the process.
Now it seems the pair have the courts on their side.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that users, ultimately, are responsible for what's stored in their cloud accounts. In other words, the companies hosting them are not. That puts services like Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music under the protective umbrella of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – which essentially says that websites cannot be held liable for copyright infringement if they promptly take down infringing material once they're notified by copyright holders.
Labels had complained that by end-running the music industry, cloud storage sites like the ones Amazon and Google are offering would become havens for pirates to store their files. Assuming the ruling (which was tied to a long-standing case against music locker site MP3tunes.com) withstands appeal, the onus will shift to them to find those pirates.
The court also ruled that a playback from a cloud system does not constitute a "public performance," which brings other rights payments into the picture.