iCloud Europe? It Could Take Years to License

Apple endured a multi-year nightmare to license the iTunes (Music) Store across Europe.

Now, it looks like that process is starting all over again with the iCloud. “It is very much the early stages of the negotiations and is similar to the launch of iTunes – which began in the US and took a while to roll out to other countries,” a representative for British licensing body PPL told the Telegraph.

Separately, a major label executive said that “no one expects to see the cloud music service live on this side of the pond until 2012,” hardly an indicator of rapid rollout.  And, that only pertains to the UK, not the rest of Europe, which could get bogged in a country-by-country licensing morass.

It all sounds like history repeating itself, and Europe remains a notoriously complicated maze of overlapping and conflicting rights.  But this time around, the costs of huge licensing delays are more obvious, and perhaps there’s more motivation to get things done.  Apple certainly has the cash, though giants like Google and Amazon have proven that license-free launches are a very real possibility if discussions break down.