A day after Apple announced that its new iCloud service will debut this fall, independent archival-oriented Chicago-based label Numero Group posted on its blog that it will not join the four major record labels in making its collection available for the iTunes matching feature. The matching feature allows users to bypass the hours-long process of uploading their iTunes libraries to iCloud by matching the songs in a user’s collection to files in the iTunes store and immediately adding them to their iCloud library. For a $25 annual fee, users can access their iCloud library from any device running iTunes.
In an article by Ars Technica, Numero co-owner Rob Sevier explained that his label is concerned about the iCloud and iTunes matching service will undermine existing copyright laws. For starters, the iTunes matching would allow people to pirate music and then access a higher-quality file of the same music via the iCloud. Furthermore, each time a song is streamed or downloaded from the iCloud the label and publisher receive a small amount of money, allowing copyright holders to make a profit from pirated music.
According to Numero’s blog post, the label is worried that the iCloud and matching service will “trample” copyright laws by blurring the lines between what is considered a duplication of a song or album. Existing laws provide that music publishers receive a “mechanical reproduction royalty” when a song is duplicated—digitally or physically—but according to Apple their service only “replicates” the music, cutting out the mechanical reproduction royalty.