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Google and GrandCentral: Open MP3s No Longer Allowed

By - July 03, 2007

After Google’s GrandCentral acquisition, Reader Troy points out:

GrandCentral offers a range of truly useful features, but one that was just plain fun was “RingShare.” This allowed users to pick from a range of different ringtones (authentic Russian *beeeeeep*, anyone?), or — better yet — upload their own MP3 for a personalized ring, “please hold” message or muzak.

As of today, though, the MP3 option is no more. (See below)

I can’t complain about this decision; the legal liability for Google/GrandCentral isn’t worth it for what amounted to a non-essential, gee-whiz feature.

Well, I can complain. Why was this done? To avoid potential liability, right? In other words, caving to possible lawsuits instead of defending customer centric features. I hate the phone world.

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5 thoughts on “Google and GrandCentral: Open MP3s No Longer Allowed

  1. Bill Hartzer says:

    I’m actually not surprised that they did this, but there must have been some issues already, perhaps some sort of distribution of the MP3s or something?

  2. GT Staff says:

    Ah, the infamous telco (and music) industry. :p
    This didn’t come as a surprise to me too, though i only learned of their “old feature” about custom mp3 ring tones when i visited their site after the acquisition announcement. But if this feature is indeed something that customers want, doesn’t Google have an existing deal with at least one of the record labels? Maybe Google can license more songs to have a larger directory of “custom” ring tones. Just my $0.02

  3. JG says:

    I can understand Google banning or discontinuing access to any unlicensed mp3s that GrandCentral may have been offering, as a direct, GrandCentral-to-user service.

    But it sounds like, from the post above, there was also a facility on GrandCentral for users to share/swap mp3s with each other directly. User-to-user. In addition to pilfering popular music, one user might have recorded a jackhammer, and uploaded that to share with others. Or recorded the sound of an old 1953 AT&T phone. Or their dog barking, or something like that. Right?

    What this service sounds like to me is YouTube. GrandCentral, at least in this latter capacity, was just acting like a neutral carrier of (not necessarily copyrighted) mp3 audio, and should have been protected by the DMCA, for at least the user-swap portion of the service.

    So would someone please explain to me why Google shuts down the GrandCentral user swap service completely, and yet still lets YouTube run rampant? Is this a double standard? If not, why not?

  4. Yes, the newly updated Yahoo! image search, is much more comprehensive. Love it!


  5. Tough interview questions says:

    Please ignore my previous comment. Was meant for another post.
    – prem