Every cloud has a digital file
Amazon is changing the game…again.
Look, they don’t have to keep giving us more free stuff…but it makes us more loyal customers.
It’s also about tying us into Amazon, and that’s fine with me. I mean, if Amazon ever went under, they’d take me for Pop Tarts and pacemaker. Just kidding…I actually don’t use either of those, but I just thought it was a good idiom to make up.
Seriously, I don’t recommend you risk your relationship with Amazon by breaking your Terms of Service. That includes installing “hacks”, by the way. You’d be amazed what you might miss afterwards. I’ve never heard of Amazon going after someone for using a hack, but they could.
If Amazon stopped doing business with you (which they wouldn’t do lightly), you would lose:
The ability to buy things from Amazon
Amazon’s archives for your Kindle books…when your Kindle died, your local files wouldn’t work on other devices, generally, without illegally stripping the Digital Rights Management. I expect my descendants to have access to my Kindle library, but that won’t happen if Amazon drops me. It could happen, by the way, if Amazon went out of business…if not one is commercially supporting the format, it may become legal to strip the DRM
Your notes, bookmarks, last page read info, and so on
The ability to Whispersync, so your books stay in the same place across devices
The ability to get on the internet through 3G (but not through wi-fi)
Your Great American Novel manuscript
Did that last one make you do a classic Spanky McFarland double-take? A Danny Thomas spit take? A comic book “What the–?” An online “WTF?”
If it didn’t, it probably should have.
Amazon just announced two new “cloud” services (and one comes in two varieties):
Let’s first deal with the one that doesn’t immediately impact you with the Kindle.
Amazon has created a “cloud player” for the web and one specifically for Android.
What does it do?
It lets you play music that you store with them…from anything with a browser (that can do streaming music).
I’ll probably use this. I currently have some music on my Kindle, and that works fine. However, the current K3 doesn’t have much volume, and playing the music does run down the battery charge. It would be nice to be able to play it from any computer. That’s not downloading the music, by the way: you aren’t going to take up a bunch of memory on someone else’s computer, and your company might not appreciate you downloading music (some of them won’t appreciate you streaming, either, of course).
So, it does affect my Kindle a bit, by possibly freeing up memory on my Kindle. I do, though, listen to this music in the car sometimes (I’m far more likely to use text-to-speech, but I do music sometimes). I’ll probably keep some music on my Kindle for convenience sake.
There is a player for the web and one for Android devices. I tested it with my SmartPhone. It worked fine…I was running it on wi-fi. Be aware of data charges from your carrier when streaming music.
The player does MP3s…it doesn’t do .wavs (I have some music in that format), and the music that’s in your iTunes would have to be converted, I believe.
So, you could store up to 5GB of music for free Amazon…and listen to it on any web-connected computer with a streaming audio browser.
Note that all you have to do is buy an MP3 album, and they’ll up that to 20GB (only for one year, though…after that you would pay. Thanks to my reader Common Sense for making that point).
Here’s the other really key thing: MP3s you buy (from here forward) automatically go to your cloud storage…and do not count against your storage space limit!
Yes, you have free unlimited music storage, as long as you buy your MP3 music from Amazon.
That’s somewhat similar to the storage we have for Kindle store books…free and unlimited.
Is that going to encourage people to buy from Amazon rather than, say, Apple? I think so.
We may, in the future, see some superlight devices with very little onboard storage…and stream our media and access our documents online. Google has already seen this future: I use Google Docs, and it can work very well. I can create a spreadsheet, and people can fill it out…food being brought to the potluck, for example.
That brings us to the other part of this, and to me, a really interesting one. You probably won’t see it in most of the headlines for today’s move, but I think it’s possibly more important than the cloud player.
That’s the “cloud drive”.
Amazon is giving you 5GB of storage (more than your entire Kindle’s local storage) in the cloud. You’ll be able to store any digital files. Keep that manuscript on there, and work on it in the hotel’s business center. You won’t have to carry that PowerPoint on your jump drive.
In fact, I would guess this may seriously hurt jump drive sales. I use those to move files from one computer to another…this eliminates that need. My employer recently installed Credant on all our machines…meaning we can’t save to a jump drive without putting a password on it. That’s sort of a bother, and I largely won’t need to do that now.
Some of you have http://www.dropbox.com …this is similar, although Dropbox allows for easy sharing and syncing files on your devices, and that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Dropbox has a free program…why wouldn’t I just use that?
This is Amazon.
That makes a difference to me. I’ll be able to get to it from anywhere I could shop at Amazon.com. I won’t need to install anything or do anything special.
I tested it…worked like a charm.
Now, some of you sharp-eyed folks might have been wanting to correct me for saying “any digital file”.
There is a size limit, but there is a more important limitation.
No illegal files…you assert that you have the right to copy the file to that drive.
I think this has some very interesting possible implications.
If you put illegal copies of Harry Potter up there, could Amazon stop doing business with you? I presume so. They can’t let you do it…they would get in trouble for it.
Interestingly, I would also presume that you are guilty of a federal crime at that point.
Amazon is famous for protecting customers’ privacy, but if the Feds had a warrant to search your cloud drive, they’d have to let them do it.
This is a little complicated, and I want to stress that I’m not a lawyer.
However, here’s how I understand it:
Copying is generally a right reserved for the copyright holder (with certain exceptions). You infringe on the rights of the copyright holder if you copy a file without the rightsholder’s permission.
Having an unauthorized copy on your computer is, according to the Supreme Court, not the same as having stolen goods.
Copying the file is illegal (with certain exceptions). Downloading an unauthorized file is not, as I understand it, illegal…although I still don’t approve of doing it knowingly.
However…in this case, you are copying it to Amazon’s cloud drive. Certainly, if you copy it to your cloud drive and then copy it from there to somewhere else, you could have a problem.
I’m not planning to use it for copyrighted material…unless I own the copyright, as with my own material. That’s the big plus for me. I’m currently working on a couple of things I’m writing. I tend to work on them on the same computer…this could change that.
Note: your Kindle doesn’t do streaming audio, so I don’t think you’ll be able to use the cloud player on that.
What do you think? Will you use this? Are you afraid for Amazon to have your storage? Will you back up everything locally, or just trust Amazon to keep it for you? Does this make any difference to you at all? Will you buy an MP3 album, just to get four times the storage? Feel free to let me know…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.