LaLa Counts on Fair Use to Let Customers Access Their Purchased Music
LaLa.com started out as a trading site, enabling its users to trade their used CDs for a fee - and its done fairly well, creating a pretty nice community of music listeners along the way. Last week, the company launched its "Upload your iPod" feature: a free service that scans all our digital music and makes it available to you online, available anywhere. The service will scan not just those MP3s you've ripped from CDs, but all those AAC files you've purchased from iTunes, too. Apparently, you're even able to download MP3s of the same music back down to your iPod when you're on the road.
How does it work? Well, LaLa only uploads from you what it doesn't already have stored on its servers. Naturally, for most people, their library has overlap with other folks so they're able to build up the common stuff pretty quickly including the stuff notoriously difficult to find online. Bless their pea picking hearts, the good folks at LaLa are counting on the Fair Use doctrine here: the assumption being that if you own it, you have the right to it. Its an application of fair-use that appears rock solid to me: LaLa doesn't allow you to distribute music but merely access what you already own. I'm sure the RIAA will do their best to make LaLa's life a living hell, and they're probably expecting that. So, kudos to LaLa!
And, this is capitalism at work kiddies, not some cause at the behest of the likes of the EFF. Its smart business for LaLa. They build very detailed profiles of their customers' music preferences and usage patterns. THAT is enormously valuable marekting data and will enable quite a good retail business for LaLa. I can't wait to see what they do with it.