Obama Cites Cloud Computing In Brief To Supreme Court

A brief for the US Supreme Court from the US Solicitor General cites cloud computing as a possible outcome for managing copyrighted media. It’s the first time a brief to the Supreme Court has cited cloud computing and another sign that the Obama administration fully understands the potential for cloud computing and its importance for consumers and Internet companies.

The reference to cloud computing is not a central part of the brief but it is used as a reason why the Obama Administration supports the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Cableivision’s “Network DVR” does not infringe on copyright holders.

The Cablevision Service does not require customers to have a set top box. Instead, the storage device resides at Cablevision premises. Solicitor General Elana Kagan said that the service is on the same legal footing as a VCR in the home, which the Supreme Court defended in the 1984 Betamax ruling. Remember the Betamax?

But what may be the most illuminating aspect of the brief is how the Obama Administration views the way cloud computing is expected to play an important role for the legal use of copyrighted media.

Michaael Robertson, the founder of MP3.com, writes that it is the first time that a brief to the Supreme Court used the term cloud computing. For Robertson, the term is meaningful. Kagan puts cloud computing in the context of “online music lockers.” Robertson is also the founder of MP3tunes, a service that allows users to store their music online for access across different devices.

He pulled this footnote from the brief:

One example may be music lockering services, which permit users to upload files to a remote computer server and stream that music to a personal device over the Internet. The general development of cloud computing, which is an umbrella term for services where programs or files are stored remotely and accessed via the Internet or other means, may generate similar issues.

The definition is clear and succinct. It demonstrates that the Obama Administration understands cloud computing and in particular, its inevitable role in storing and playing copyrighted works. I agree with Robertson. Let’s just hope the Supreme Court is as enlightened when it makes its ruling.


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