iTunes Match: Legitimizing Piracy ... Or Monetizing It?
June 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM (PT)
The official unveiling of APPLE's iCLOUD and its new iTUNES MATCH music storage cloud is barely 24 hours old, yet a raging debate has already begun: Does iTUNES MATCH essentially grant amnesty to those who illegally downloaded songs ... or does it bring "found money" for storing illegal music to labels and publishers?
"Did STEVE JOBS just announce complete music piracy amnesty?" wondered DAVID GURWITZ in ZDNET.COM. "I think he might have. Basically, the idea is that iTUNES MATCH will scan your existing music library of ripped MP3s, and match them against their library of 18 million or so authorized music tracks.
iCloud is a good step towards post-piracy realism in copyright-based industries; a step towards a music industry thatâ€™s based in rational mutually-beneficial economic transactions rather than in animosity, blame, and fear.
"Those ripped (which could have been pirated) MP3s of yours, if they match, will be replaced in the iCLOUD with official, licensed 256Kbps AAC -- without DRM," he continued. "So, the idea is that you pay APPLE $24.95 a year, they scan your old music collection, upgrade all your pirated/ripped tracks, and give you back legitimate music."
In RAIN, KURT HANSON quotes EVOLVER.FM's ELLIOT VAN BUSKIRK as saying, "It reinforces the practice of downloading music without paying for it ... it leaves unfulfilled the possibility of convincing people to pay a monthly fee for all the music in the world, whether they’ve bothered to pirate it yet or not."
Looking at it from a different perspective is TUNECORE CEO/Founder JEFF PRICE, who told MASHABLE.COM that "This puts together a model that allows people to make money off of pirated music" (as people who pay APPLE put pirated music on iTUNES MATCH see some of that money go to rights holders) ... The gap between those two things have never been bridged before -- the needs of the consumer and the rights holders."
HANSON quotes PRICE estimating that iTUNES MATCH could generate $500 million annually if only 10% of iTUNES users subscribe.
What's more a rep from GROOVESHARK asserted that APPLE’s iTUNES in the CLOUD could be the first step the move to music subscription services like RDIO, MOG and SPOTIFY. "It’s great to see APPLE bringing more awareness to online music streaming. We certainly don’t view iCLOUD as competitive to us, because the service that iCLOUD offers really isn’t the same as GROOVESHARK."
Looking at the big picture is D.E. WITTKOWER, who wrote in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, "With iCLOUD, APPLE seems to be taking the less-traveled road to compete with free: not the RIAA’s extremism, not the DMCA-supported removal of user capabilities through DRM, and not the lowering of prices to reflect actual value, but instead adding value to meet prices. The iCLOUD platform, from what we know so far, seems to allow you to bring in existing files in a reasonable, non-abusive way, and to walk away from iCLOUD without losing what you’ve paid for. And the value of ease of access, use, transfer, and recovery seems significant enough to be worth buying into, for many at least.
"iCLOUD is a good step towards post-piracy realism in copyright-based industries; a step towards a music industry that’s based in rational mutually-beneficial economic transactions rather than in animosity, blame, and fear."
MICHAEL SCHMITT, Associate Editor at R.A.I.N., added, "I don't think iCLOUD will push folks who were pirating and illegally downloading songs necessarily, or will it encourage legal music buyers to become criminals. Since iCLOUD is, as yet, not a streaming service, but is a wireless way to synch and bypass the USB cable, and pirates know that there are many and better file formats than iTUNES' AAC format to use. So those who are already pirating may not see the advantage of iCLOUD.
Has the flash and cache of iTUNES made this new service a bigger deal than what it really is? SCHMITT thinks so. "iCLOUD is not a big deal to me. AMAZON and GOOGLE stream over the web as well as downloading on local devices, so iCLOUD by not offering streaming services in some ways not as competitive as AMAZON and GOOGLE's cloud services.
"However, by the FALL, APPLE may well unveil streaming and other services not mentioned so far. The upside for APPLE is that it locks more users into APPLE's eco-system, especially if you have your entire library music library at iCLOUD, and then you are less likely to migrate to say, an ANDROID device."
[What do you think? Will iCLOUD's iMATCH feature encourage more music piracy, or not? Please, comment below.]