Should you be able to sell digital music you legally purchased?

By on August 22, 2012, 7:30 AM

Normally when you purchase a physical good like a vehicle, clothing or even computer components, you have every right to resell that item when you no longer have a use for it. If the same laws also apply to creative work (which they do), why then aren’t they also applicable with regards to ownership of digital content like music?

That exact question is at the center of a lawsuit pitting Capitol Records against ReDigi, an online service that allows users to sell “used” or “recycled” songs purchased through iTunes at a fraction of the price it originally cost. The service operates using a pretty simple philosophy from chief technology officer Larry Rudolph – “You buy it, and you own it. You should be able to sell it. If you steal it, you shouldn’t be able to sell it. It’s very simple.”

Capitol Records, on the other hand, sees ReDigi as nothing more than a clearinghouse for copyright infringement. "While ReDigi touts its service as the equivalent of a used record store, that analogy is inapplicable: used record stores do not make copies to fill up their shelves," as noted in Capitol’s filing.

Naturally, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) agrees with the record label and has even sent the service a cease-and-desist order.

It’s a tricky situation no matter how you slice it as both sides have a valid argument. Logic and the law says you should be able to resell something you legally purchased but at the same time, the potential to abuse the system is seemingly overwhelming although ReDigi goes through an exhaustive process to verify ownership and prevent duplicates from being created.

The case is expected to go to trial before a judge in October.




User Comments: 24

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aspleme said:

I can purchase a CD or DVD, or even a record or cassette, and resell it. The store I sell it to doesn't do any kind of checking to make sure it isn't copied, ReDigi does, and should be considered more secure than a physical stores. This isn't about copyright infringement, it's about the record company making extra money.

Guest said:

buy once , sell once: I'm fine with this for "digital recycle".

buy once, copy many, sell lots: this is obviously an abuse.

Ma_ga said:

buy once , sell once: I'm fine with this for "digital recycle".

buy once, copy many, sell lots: this is obviously an abuse.

And so a CD or a DVD can be copy many times.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

buy once , sell once: I'm fine with this for "digital recycle".

buy once, copy many, sell lots: this is obviously an abuse.

And so a CD or a DVD can be copy many times.

But if I take a obviously home burnt CD into a pawn shop or used music store - they will laugh at me. Its a bit trickier to tell if the digital song is a copy or the original you bought from iTunes.

If ReDigi has a fairly accurate way to confirm you bought this from iTunes, then remove it from you iTunes account so you can't re-download or use it. A way of preventing you from selling a copy, then I would say its ok. But that seems very tricky to do. I'm not saying I have any love for the RIAA or recording industry - just if ReDigi is blatantly letting people sell copies then I agree its illegal. If they are 95% sure that is not a copy being sold and you cannot use that song any more from iTunes and all copies you have of that song are GONE once its sold, I say leave them alone.

Guest said:

But if I take a obviously home burnt CD into a pawn shop or used music store - they will laugh at me. Its a bit trickier to tell if the digital song is a copy or the original you bought from iTunes.

Nope, you steal the original CD or DVD open it make your copy and then sell back the original. Only a fool would try to pawn a obvious copy instead of the original when the copy is just as good as far as the end user is concerned.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is exactly why I stopped paying for music, DRM plain and simple. I find other ways to support my favorite artists. The record labels just see dollar signs, and a service like this makes them slightly blurry, you can't have that now. It's infuriating how deep in bed they are with the RIAA, they just do what stops them from losing money without actually investigating the situation. I think its very possible to resale digital rights, anywhere from music to games to software. The fact is that it MAY hurt profit for someone somewhere who already has too much money, and that person will stop it at all cost. In this case the record labels because we all know they need more money.

Guest said:

Well I don't understand any of the anology that is presented as an argument for none makes sence. You can knock of a real product and sell it before you get caught and this has been done many times of real products. You can steel from a store and sell the cd and it is like selling the real deal. And these actions are just as easy as copied digital content so nobodies argument makes any sence as to the reason why you should not be alowed to sell digital content that you own for it is just as hard to prove ownership of the real deal. No one is able to tell wether some property that you are selling is stolen goods or not. You could have bought many times things that were stolen. And don't tell me that every purchase you made you went to the police and had them trace the serial across multiple country and counties and precincts data bases and you waited years for the result just to make the purchase. This would be rediculous. So no reason why for any of the arguments against it. If the file contains a drm proof of you being the purchaser it should be ok.

Tygerstrike said:

Guys its all about the cash period. The Record Companies want to keep a stranglehold on their physical medium. The main problem is that without money and profit....how do you expect new and innovative products to come out? Be it music or movies or video games. We are not at the social level of StarFleet. Ppl wont make any product out of the goodness of their hearts. They wanna get paid.

Guest said:

good idea and why not you bought it you should be able to sell it....if they are worried about copies then maybe they need to look at there drm or maybe use some sort of receipt that would confirm being legitimate, if not then is anything u buy digitally is not truly your possession as you should be able to do what even you like with your own possessions give it away or sell at a discounted price, ive had 100s of cd/dvd/games in the past and majority have been binned due to long term damage therefore unable to sell what a waste....but be nice to know I have some value of some sort in my collection or better yet buy cheaper digital media at prices it should be at in the 1st place if not cheaper....

tonylukac said:

In China people sell copies of cds on the streets. What do communist countries know that democracies don't?

lchu12 lchu12 said:

In China people sell copies of cds on the streets. What do communist countries know that democracies don't?

In China, they wouldn't give two sh*ts about copyright (granted some actually don't understand the concept.) and also why care when obviously you can make alot of money without having to produce a single creative idea or develop something unique.

Let others do all the heavy lifting and just profit from it by copying - Easier and cheaper to reproduce.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

buy once , sell once: I'm fine with this for "digital recycle".

buy once, copy many, sell lots: this is obviously an abuse.

Yes agreed. If the record labels want to sell a product, they have to also be happy to cop that it can be resold within reason of course.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Guys its all about the cash period. The Record Companies want to keep a stranglehold on their physical medium. The main problem is that without money and profit....how do you expect new and innovative products to come out? Be it music or movies or video games. We are not at the social level of StarFleet. Ppl wont make any product out of the goodness of their hearts. They wanna get paid.

You got one thing right..it is ALL about money. This is just the record companies selling the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again. Digital media should not be treated any different than any other consumer goods.

Chuck Cortes Chuck Cortes said:

OK, I guess I'm gonna have to be the logical one here. In case you haven't noticed, the average digital song cost about $.99, why anyone would want to resell it is beyond me. This is the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. I don't even have to illegally download the song from a torrent site, I can connect my computer to a digital radio station and record the song just like I use to record to tape back in the days but with better quality. This is stupid beyond all reason.

I agree we should have the right to sell digital property we legally purchase but again what ***** resells and mp3? I would use this to sell a digital copy of a game like the Battlefield Bad Company 2 game I bought on Steam which I never liked . It would make sense if Steam would just take it off my account and put it on the other person. It would even make sense to do it with software but an mp3?

No wonder Apple and Samsung breaks sales records all the time, people are just too stupid.

Guest said:

If I buy something then I own it. Completely. If the law says different then the law is wrong.

lchu12 lchu12 said:

Next argument: You bought the license to listen to the song and not the mp3 of the song. Also the licenses prohibits you to transfer to another user.

Zoltan Head said:

No, you shouldn't.

Capaill said:

Yes, I have heard this license concept before, it is also used when purchasing games software. But I have a problem with it. Say I buy some software online (eg. anti-virus), it asks me which license or subscription I want to buy (eg. 1 year or 3 years) and I now know how long the license to use the software will last and what restrictions apply to my version of the license (eg. single-use only, up to 3 PC installations). I know it because it is in the license that I am purchasing.

When I buy a song, nobody told me about a license. Nobody told me about restrictions. I didn't have to agree to anything before I paid my money (eg. buying an album in a shop or from an online store). That song, or instance of the song, is mine for as long as I want. I can copy it to my mp3 player or put it on a CD to listen in the car or file it away with a few thousand other songs I never listen to. And because there is no license, no rules, I can give it to my friends too. Naturally I wouldn't try to profit from it (that crosses an obvious line) but there is nothing stopping me from giving it freely or making multiple copies of it for personal use on different media platforms.

That is point #1. Which leads to point #2: If I can sell the music for what I paid for it, then I am not profiting. I am breaking even. So I purchase a single song online, listen to it, get bored with it and sell it for the price I paid for it. Nothing wrong with that.

The "problem" with the above is that it is the digital age .. or perhaps the early days of the digital age. There is no control over how data flows online. Once a file is out there, the owner has lost control of it. That is a simple fact. Until such time as a mechanism is implemented to control the data and all instances of it, this will always be a problem.

Therefore, why should we be penalised now just because a music company never bothered to put some restrictions on the music at point of sale?

Now that I think of it, the sooner we all accept that there are no restrictions on the redistribution of what was originally paid for, the sooner we will see a move from the corporations to lock down the internet and the flow of data. Which I guess means that we should just stay quiet and put up with their petty mewlings about lost profit and all those mean and nasty pirates

Zoltan Head said:

When I buy a song, nobody told me about a license. Nobody told me about restrictions. I didn't have to agree to anything before I paid my money (eg. buying an album in a shop or from an online store).

Nobody told you, but it was there (if nobody told you you can't do 100mph in town, you can still be stopped & fined!)

Capaill said:

Haha, Zoltan, of course you are right. A lawyer could probably pick a hundred holes in my statements.

But ... I know I can't do 100mph because I have read the Rules of the Road and am aware of what the limits are. I was required to read it before I could be allowed to drive.

Can you tell me what the rules are in relation to purchasing a music CD in a shop? Do they vary between music companies. Are they different if I purchase the album or song online? Do you know where to even find the license of use? Has it ever changed? What version was in force when you purchased a music CD in 1998? Is the music on that CD bound by that license or the current one?

We've all heard from various sources that we cannot make copies of songs (surely that's wrong) or that we cannot sell copies (that sounds fair) or that we cannot upload copies to torrent sites (that's probably fair too). But that is all just guessing. I don't know what I am supposed to do or not do with each song I purchase. So I will act how I think is fair. I will make copies, I will give it to friends if they want it, and if I got the opportunity to sell a song online to one person (with the result that the song disappeared from my online music library forever) I probably would be ok with that too.

But you're right. I cannot legally defend my statements as they are probably not legal. Somewhere, there is a document that proves them to be wrong. But as I have never seen or been shown that document, then I will continue to purchase songs and do with them as I consider fair. And I'm ok with that.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Nobody told you, but it was there (if nobody told you you can't do 100mph in town, you can still be stopped & fined!)

Speeding is a criminal offense. Licensing is a contractual obligation. There is a BIG difference between them.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Just in case anyone is curious:

"The analog hole (also known as the analog loophole) is a fundamental and inevitable vulnerability in copy protection schemes for noninteractive works in digital formats which can be exploited to duplicate copy-protected works that are ultimately reproduced using analog means. Once digital information is converted to a human-perceptible (analog) form, it is a relatively simple matter to digitally recapture that analog reproduction in an unrestricted form, thereby fundamentally circumventing any and all restrictions placed on copyrighted digitally-distributed work."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_hole

In other words, if you convert the digital signal to analog, you can legally back up your digital media.

"An example of using the analog hole would be connecting your DVR to a DVD or Blu-ray recorder using component cables. Because the component signal is analog (versus the digital HDMI signal) any copy protection used by the manufacture of the content is left behind and you can record the content to DVD or Blu-ray."

[link]

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Nobody told you, but it was there (if nobody told you you can't do 100mph in town, you can still be stopped & fined!)

That is different to a sale contract.

Edit: Oops Darkshadoe has already replied this.

Guest said:

My point of view is that you purchase mp3's then you buy copy rights so if I read corectly if the original party gets a profit then the copy is leagal because the origanal is legal

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