Google adds scan-and-match to locker in US

By | Published on Wednesday 19 December 2012


Google has added scan-and-match to its digital locker service in the US. As much previously reported, when the web-giant originally launched its music-based locker service in America it did so without the backing of the record labels and music publishers.

This meant that, under copyright law, the web firm couldn’t offer users the add-on service where its software scans a customer’s hard-drive for music files and automatically puts copies of any tracks already in the Google libraries into his or her online music storage locker, rather than the customer having to manually upload every track. Offering that service requires Google to make a copy of said tracks, which requires a licence (whereas, in most countries, the user can upload copies of legitimately acquired MP3s without a licence using their ‘private copy’ or ‘format shifting’ right).

With Apple entering the digital locker market with the music companies on board, and therefore with scan-and-match included, and after Amazon added the arguably essential function to its digital locker service in August, it was clear Google would have to follow suit to compete. And sure enough, when the web firm launched its digital locker in Europe last month, scan-and-match was included. The latest development sees scan-and-match incorporated into the Google Play locker in the US.

Now that it is on par with Apple and Amazon in terms of functionality, Google will hope to win a bigger slice of the music locker market by offering its service for free, rather than charging a nominal annual subscription fee (£21.99 for Apple’s service in the UK). Users can also stream music over the net from their Google lockers at a higher bitrate.

Apple and Amazon presumably hope to compete despite charging an annual fee partly by their lockers being closely linked to their respective download stores, which are much more popular than the fledgling Google Play download platform, and partly by allowing users to store more tracks in their lockers (25% more in the case of Apple, ten times more in the case of Amazon).