A judge has ruled that MP3tunes was not in violation of copyright law, as they were not responsible for the uploading of the files that users were listening to and therefore not responsible for any pirated music that might have been uploaded. To me, this means that now any digital copy of a movie I own can be uploaded to an online locker for my streaming pleasure, anywhere, anytime. It is a fantastic ruling and interpretation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in my mind.
The MP3Tunes Ruling
Now I know the ruling was all about music, but shouldn't it automatically be applied to digital copies of any kind of entertainment content? Especially, video? After all, it's all zeros and ones.
Here's how I see it, the judge has deemed that the online locker is simply that, storage. A stream of the content up in the locker, is not a "public performance" and therefore does not violate copyright, nor require licensing fees and royalties to be paid to the studios.
Notice, in that paragraph, I never used the word music, and those exact sentences should apply to pretty much anything that we own which can be stored online and then streamed for consumption.
Another major point in the ruling is that the online lockers need not maintain multiple copies of each of the files, deduplication, therefore, one copy of a piece of content is enough for everyone that owns it to stream it without having to upload another copy. That massively cuts down on the storage necessary to maintain such a service.
Again, that works perfectly for digital copies of films, no? So basically, any online storage service should be able to allow online storage and streaming of any copyrighted material provided that the users who are streaming the content have already proven that they own a copy of the content.
That's fantastic news for people, like me, who hate fat stacks of discs lying about cluttering up the living space, not to mention the instant streaming access to my full library of content wherever I am in the world in a much better fashion than running my own server at home to do it. Now I should be able to use a streaming service with some other technology, like the Intel second generation I-series processors, Adobe Pass, UltraViolet, etc, to verify that I own a physical copy of a piece of media, or the rights to a digital copy, and without having to upload anything, simply add it to my online storage and watch at my leisure. It should also help us all unify our entire media catalog into one or two services.
Another great thing, since no one needs to maintain multiple copies of the media, there should be far less restrictions on storage and the pricing for it all should be of a reasonable rate by those online locker services.
Is Online Video Storage Next?
Now it's not all popping of champagne bottles and partying. After all, the movie studios will probably have to be dragged into this kicking and screaming, and will have their days in court as well. But it sets a very strong precedent that a judge could simply point to in a digital movie or TV episode lawsuit with a similar service and say "see that ruling and get out of my courtroom."
So, perhaps, instead of preparing lengthy legal battles, they [movie studios] should simply work all that much harder with the technology partners [Intel, AMD, Adobe] and the potential services [Amazon, Google, Apple] to make sure they build in ample ways to determine if the content that the user is trying to add to their locker is fraudulent and ways to prevent it from being added to lockers.
I have a few ideas on how you could do that but am sure there are far smarter people out there who have even better ideas. Though, if you want to hear mine, I'm happy to come to some brainstorming and consulting sessions, for a fee. Trust me, I'm far cheaper than the worst of lawyers and probably more friendly. Then you can use those lawyers for other stuff, like sending threatening letters to grandmothers who unknowingly try to add that content to their online lockers because their grandkids added it to their computer, oh wait, the record labels beat you to that one already as well.
Here's a link to that full ruling if you are interested in reading it yourself. I welcome thoughts from consumers all the way through studio execs, copyright lawyers and online services as I find it a very interesting issue that could really help us all move into a fully digital, online, movie/TV owning/viewing experience.
One major issue that will need to be addressed, can I stream a show from an online storage locker, if I have a copy of it on my DVR? In that sense, isn't the online locker, just a really big hard drive for my DVR? That will definitely be a contentious point that will need to be hammered out.