Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No, You Can't Resell Your Digital Media

Redigi image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
What if used digital songs or albums could be resold like CDs or vinyl records? After all, you bought it so you own it, right? Apparently not, according to a federal judge in New York who just ruled that doing so infringes upon copyrights controlled by record labels.

In 2011 a company called ReDigi opened an online platform for reselling digital songs bought from iTunes, Amazon and the like, but record labels (Capitol in particular) and book publishers responded with the suit that took issue with the premise.

ReDigi felt it had a case because of what's known as the "first sale doctrine" that buyers of physical goods abide by. This is interpreted to mean that once you buy something, you own it and are free to resell it if you wish without having to pay a royalty to the manufacturer that made it.

The same does not apply to digital goods, according to the judge's ruling. I would've thought that the ruling went in favor of Capitol because you don't buy the song but merely pay for a license to use it (which seems like a simple way around it, and is what software companies do), but that's not the case. You purchase the digital media, but you're not free to resell it, at least on a platform like Redigi, says the judge.

The ruling has major implications that cut both ways. First of all, it helps content creators in that being able to sell a digital file that has no degradation from the original would undermine the market value of the original content. On the other hand, reselling digital goods to libraries would make the content more widely available.

For what it's worth, ReDigi has retooled into version 2.0, which they claim does not violate the terms of the ruling (why this is the case is not explained), so this is not over. What's your take?


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1 comment:

Bjorn said...

Why should a company make money out of reselling songs without paying anything to the creators? To me this is the same as pirate sites. If a person wants to gift their mp3 collection to someone else then that should be ok but I don't see why someone think it's right for them to make money out of someone else's music and having nothing to do with distrubution or pr.


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