Managers at iTunes are trying to lock down worldwide cloud-music rights, CNET has learned.
Sources familiar with the discussions between Apple, record companies, and music publishers, say Apple is seeking international music licenses for its iCloud service. The licenses would be similar to those the company has already obtained for U.S. operations, the sources said. If iTunes managers wrap up negotiations in time, they could announce the offering at a Tuesday press event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., where the company is expected to roll out the iPhone 5, the next generation of the iconic smartphone.
The sources said Apple is close to reaching deals with rights holders but nothing is signed. An Apple representative declined to comment.
In June, Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs announced an online cloud storage service called iCloud that's designed to make it simple to wirelessly share music, e-mail, photos, calendars, and other data between handheld gadgets and desktop computers. The new Apple service attempts to harness the power and flexibility of cloud computing for home users. It uses techniques that have already proved popular with businesses to make it easier to move data stored on Apple's servers back and forth between multiple devices and applications.
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Apple said that only music bought "from iTunes" can be transferred to the cloud and shared with other devices--a fact that may limit iCloud's allure for music aficionados who have transferred gigabytes of music from legally purchased CDs to their computers. Apple's answer to that is "iTunes Match," which allows users to store their "entire collection," including music ripped from CDs, on iCloud servers for $24.99 a year.
It works by analyzing songs in your collection, comparing them against the 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, and then making those available immediately at 256 kbps, even if the originals were lower quality.
Some of the countries that could receive access to iCloud include Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, the sources said. Apple is facing a growing number of competitors in the digital music sector, including Amazon, Spotify, and Turntable.fm.