SAN FRANCISCO, March 29, 2011 -- Amazon.com on Tuesday launched a new 'cyberlocker' service that allows music lovers and owners to remotely access their music collections on any device of their choosing.
"Cloud Drive is your personal disk drive in the cloud," writes Amazon.com's Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a welcome message on Amazon.com's home page. "Anything you put in the cloud drive is robustly stored in Amazon's datacenters. You can upload your music collection to Cloud Drive, as well as any other digital documents.
The Cloud Player is for the Android and the web, Bezos adds.
"Combined, these services allow you to store your music worry-free in the cloud and enjoy it anywhere," he writes.
Users are being given five gigabits of free storage, an new music purchases from Amazon.com are stored for free.
The launch of the store puts Amazon.com on the forefront of the music retailing business, ahead of Google, Apple and Spotify, other companies that have been working to provide similar services in the United States.
Spotify is a Swedish mobile streaming music service that has become extremely popular in Europe, but that has failed to launch so far in the United States because of the difficulties it has run into obtaining the necessary licenses it needs for the music rights.
It has become so popular in Europe that some telecom providers have started bundling the service with their regular phone service.
Another similar music locker service, MP3Tunes.com, started by entrepreneur Michael Robertson in the United States, is currently being sued by EMI for copyright infringement.
One way that Amazon.com might be able to provide its service is that it is giving itself the right to police its users' computer files to check up on them.
Its terms of service also specifically spell out that users are responsible for the content of their files, not Amazon.com.
Term number five of the terms of service contract that users must agree to in order to use the service, for example, states: "You must ensure that you have all the necessary rights in Your Files that permit you to use the Service without infringing the rights of any copyright owners, violating any applicable laws, or violating the terms of any license or agreement to which you are bound."
The next paragraph gives Amazon.com the right to snoop on users' files and to "disclose" them.
"You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats," reads the contract.
It's not clear from the agreement, however, what kind of music is legal to upload to the cloud, and what is not, and how Amazon.com will make that determination.