Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Could Gladinet potentially incur the wrath of the RIAA?

Some time ago, I heard about SkyDrive (from Sarah Perez) and started using it via my personal MSN account. However, despite some isolated use (and attempts at use), I never really adopted it to any great length because (at least in my experience) the upload and download times were too slow for my taste. But should general upload/download speeds improve, the idea of moving my files to the cloud - from which I could access them from anywhere - sounds very attractive.

Steven Hodson recently wrote about something that would make cloud storage even more attractive - a service called Gladinet that allows you to mount cloud storage as a Windows drive.

And Hodson notes that Gladinet supports more than SkyDrive:

As you can see from the drop down list Gladinet supports the following cloud file storage services:

* EMC Atmos
* Box.net
* Google Picasa
* Google Docs
* Google Docs for Google Apps (Pro)
* Amazon S3
* WebDav
* FTP Server

Note that Google Docs is one of the items above. We'll return to that in a moment.

Now that is really powerful, and really easy to use. One example that immediately came to mind (assuming viable network speeds) was putting my music files on the cloud, connecting to them via a Z: drive, and then being able to access them from any of my computers -

And that's when the alarm bells started going off in my head.

You see, if I were to buy a Siobhan Donaghy CD (I tried; Rasputin Music didn't have one), rip the files, and put the files on my Z: drive, then I could easily access them from any computer. While perhaps there are some legal ramifications to this, I could make a moral argument that I bought the CD for my personal use, and the backup copy is stored in a single location - never mind the fact that I'm ACCESSING the backup copy from multiple locations.

But, in the same way that I could share my Z: drive with myself, I could share it with someone else. Or maybe thousands of someone elses. And that is, of course, just as illegal as Napster v1.0.

Now Gladinet, of course, is only a tool. There is nothing inherent in Gladinet that makes it illegal. It's just that Gladinet makes it even easier to perform illegal activities. (As does Google Docs, incidentally, since Google Docs files can now be shared, just like SkyDrive files can.)

Now of course there are countless ways in which I could engage in illegal activity without Gladinet. I could copy the files to a thumb drive, or a CD, or a floppy, or paper tape (a lot of paper tape). But that would be an asynchronous sharing of the files, which would eventually result in the files residing in two or more locations. This technology makes it really really easy for the files to reside in a single location, yet be shared by people simultaneously.

Now of course the RIAA could figure this out also, assume the worst, and require Gladinet users to pay exorbitant fees to the RIAA on the assumption that they ARE sharing files. But that would be a stupid move on the RIAA's part. And of course, we know that the RIAA never engages in any stupid m-

Um, never mind.

(Picture source, license)
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