Amazon's new MP3 store does a lot of things right: lower prices than iTunes, better audio quality and no embedded copyright-protection software. But as the Seattle Times' Brier Dudley warns, the fine print could get you, a real concern following last Thursday's $222,000 illegal distribution ruling against a Minnesota woman. Amazon's user agreement makes it illegal to lend or share your own copies of the songs.
The Amazon language seems to erode the principle of fair use: the right to make copies for personal use and loan the media. "It's sort of like they're adding another layer of restrictions potentially above and beyond what copyright law would restrict," one attorney notes. Simply put, record companies could sue you for breach of contract for lending your mother an iPod containing MP3s legally purchased from Amazon.