Digital Top Stories

Amazon upgrades digital locker service

By | Published on Wednesday 1 August 2012


As expected, Amazon yesterday upgraded its digital locker platform bringing it more inline with the rival service offered by Apple – ie scan-and-match functionality has been added.

As previously reported, Amazon launched a basic music-based digital locker service in the US last year, enabling users to upload their digital music files to the web firm’s servers, so they can be accessed via any net-connected device.

Like Google, which opened a similar service Stateside last year, Amazon launched its digital locker without involving the major record companies, arguing that users could upload private copies of their existing digital music files under the private copy exemptions that exist in most copyright systems (though not the UK).

Some labels argued that because the digital locker allowed ‘over-the-net’ playback of uploaded music licences were actually needed from the rights owners, though Amazon and Google did not concur. However, Amazon continued to talk to the big music companies because it wanted to add extra functionality to its locker service which would need rights owner approval.

The main bit of extra functionality is scan-and-match, which was available with Apple’s label-approved locker from the start. This function scans what music files are on a user’s computer and, where tracks already exist in Amazon’s catalogue, automatically places them into the user’s locker without them having to upload the files individually. The locker version of the track may also be of a higher quality than the original. Such a service requires a mechanical copy licence from the labels.

All four majors and 150 indies are on board for this week’s US launch of the upgraded Amazon locker service, which is compatible with any web browser, Android device, iPhone, iPad and the Kindle Fire tablet, and which will automatically place tracks at a 256kbps audio quality into a user’s locker. The service will cost $25 a year.

A European launch of the enhanced Amazon locker service is expected later this year.