Plex goes to the cloud

plex-logoThis morning I saw all over the internet (mainly my inbox and Twitter) that Plex has just released a beta of Plex Media Server for the cloud utilising Amazon Drive for storage. I’m pretty excited about this possibility as Amazon Drive is super cheap for unlimited storage and I’ve been trying to find a cost effective way of running a Plex server so I can do away with all our DVD’s or fiddly cables to connect the computer up. I’ve tried options like the Apple TV and so on, but Plex has been the best option for streaming my DVD’s after I have added them to my Plex library. Unfortunately to watch them on our TV I still need to plug something into it, be it a laptop, an iPad or an iPhone. Not ideal.

Our TV is quite old, so we are looking thus at getting a smart TV but before we do we want to be completely settled on what method we will use to access our media. Plex has required a server until now, and so I’ve been looking at ways to run a low-power server under our house with a battery bank so I can charge it using off-peak power that costs 1/3 of the amount of on-peak power and eventually add solar power to it instead (we rent so can’t make physical modifications to the house). It can now be run in the cloud though with a flat-rate storage option in Amazon Drive – perfect.

The only thing is, I could not find anything anywhere in the Plex blog or anywhere else about how it would work logistically and whether encryption will be applied to server files.

Enter Twitter conversation with @Plex:

So from the sounds of that from @Plex your media files are not encrypted. For most users this will work great and make your files widely accessible from your Plex server. One thing to note though is that if you use the sharing function in Plex to share your library with someone else, this may constitute a breach of the Amazon Drive terms of use, specifically item 1.3 that says:

You may not share files (a) that contain defamatory, threatening, abusive, pornographic, or otherwise objectionable material, (b) that advocate bigotry, hatred, or illegal discrimination, or (c) if sharing those files violates any law, any intellectual property, publicity, privacy, or other right of others, or any license or other agreement by which you are bound.

I imagine that means that while you can legally backup your DVD’s and watch them using Plex, it would violate intellectual property rights on those same DVD’s if you shared your library with someone else, which in turn means a breach of the Amazon Drive terms of use.

The other thing to note is that the Amazon Drive terms of use make it quite clear that Amazon will analyse your files. So if you aren’t OK with that, you would not be able to use the service.

Anyway, that aside, I’m excited and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Let me know what you think or if there are any other caveats in the Amazon Drive terms of use that might be relevant. I do wonder about the applicability of item 1.2 that prohibits the use of Amazon Drive in the operation of a file storage application. The rest of 1.2 sounds like it’s purely about using it commercially and potentially using one account for large commercial applications, but nevertheless it does raise the question for me as to whether it would be a problem or not.

28/09/16 EDIT

Plex has updated the FAQ in their blog post with the below:

Plex does not do any file level encryption or modify your files on Amazon Drive in any way.”

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