Ezmo promises legal music sharing

Today's the official U.S. launch of Ezmo, a Web site that lets you upload your music collection from iTunes or the Windows Media Player, then share it with up to 10 friends.

Today is the official U.S. launch of Ezmo, a Norwegian Web service that allows users to post and share their entire digital music collections through a simple Flash application.

I was actually playing around with the service last week--I pretended I was from the U.K., where Ezmo's been available for some time--and the user experience is very straightforward. You can post music from any folder directly through the site, or you can download a small Uploader application that will automatically upload all the songs in your copy of iTunes or the Windows Media Player. Once your tunes are uploaded, you can return to Ezmo.com to stream any of your songs through the Flash-based Ezmo Player. You can also invite up to 10 friends from within the Player; your friends will receive an e-mail or IM with a link to the site and an invitation to register. Friendships are apparently two-way--they can listen to any music you post, and vice-versa.

According to the FAQ, this is all perfectly legal. You might remember Michael Robertson's original MP3.com site, which faced legal challenges from the major labels over copyright infringement and eventually paid close to $170 million to settle those cases. But in that case, the labels griped because MP3.com had its own database of music which it hadn't licensed, and users simply had to prove that they had already purchased the CDs in order to play the songs from MP3.com's site. Ezmo forces users to go through the upload process, which makes it more like MyPlay, an online music "locker." Both MP3.com and MyPlay were eventually purchased by major labels, and more or less disappeared into the digital ether.

Legal or not, uploading your music collection takes a long time on Ezmo, at least if you're using a cable connection like me: uploading 805MB of files from iTunes (all projects on which I played and have at least a reasonable claim to copyright) has already eaten up nearly half an hour, with no end in sight. Do it at night, I suppose, or when you don't have anything else that needs an open and fast Net connection.

One other caveat: I tend not to trust any site with a FAQ that asks "is [application X] malware/spyware?" And when the answer is essentially "trust us," with no explanation of what the application in question does, alarm bells go off. In this case, the Uploader apparently updates itself without seeking users' permission--the exact same thing Microsoft got so much flak for a couple weeks ago. But I'm not a security expert, haven't done extensive testing on it to see what else might be coming through that open link, and therefore can't recommend the Uploader without hesitation. Manually selecting folders seems like a safer way to go.

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