Infringers or Innovators? Examining Copyright Liability for Cloud-Based Music Locker Services

Infringers or Innovators? Examining Copyright Liability for Cloud-Based Music Locker Services

Brandon J. Trout · 14 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 729

Abstract

Music lockers—Internet sites where users may store a copy of their music for later playback—have revolutionized the way people listen to music, allowing them to take their music with them anywhere in the world. However, rights holders are concerned that these locker services potentially infringe music copyrights when they allow their users to upload and stream music and when they use a space-saving technology called “deduplication.” This Note delineates the separate rights guaranteed under the Copyright Act as applicable to music lockers: the right to copy and the right of public performance. The analysis looks at several music locker services to determine if they are directly or secondarily liable for copyright infringement, and, if they are, whether the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Safe Harbor could ultimately prevent judgment against them. Although a court may find locker services secondarily liable for infringement, the DMCA may still provide a safe harbor. Furthermore, this Note argues that Congress should update and clarify the Copyright Act to legalize the use of deduplication and to better define the DMCA’s public performance right.