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Music The Courts

RIAA Doesn't Like the "Used Digital Music" Business 300

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-owner-only dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica reports on the developing story between the RIAA and music reseller ReDigi, 'the world's first online marketplace for used digital music,' who first came online with a beta offering on October 11th, 'allowing users to sell "legally acquired digital music files" and buy them from others "at a fraction of the price currently available on iTunes.'' If the notion of selling 'used' digital content is challenged in court, we may finally receive a judicial ruling on the legality of EULAs that will overturn the previous Vernor v. Autodesk decision."
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RIAA Doesn't Like the "Used Digital Music" Business

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  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:10PM (#38064390) Journal

    Now the RIAA has flip-flopped by acting as if these digital files are NOT equivalent to physical items...I guess their position will be where the money is, regardless of what's logical or their prior actions.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:10PM (#38064392)

    They've already been trying to do this.

    In the PC games market, tying games to Steam - I bought Portal 2, and discovered it required me to install Steam to get the install and get the fucking software to run.

    What does this mean? Well, I can make it run. But I can't, when done with it, give the copy (serial and all, uninstalled from my computer) to a family member or friend as a gift.

    iTunes does much the same thing. You can't buy something and then send it to someone else, in a "deleted from your account, credited to theirs instead" transaction.

    The cartels salivate at killing the used market because they think it means more sales.

  • The cartels salivate at killing the used market because they think it means more sales.

    It can mean more sales. If used book stores burned every book they bought, the sales of new copies of those books would increase at least a tiny bit...and that sliver is what they're after.

    That's what I'm assuming anyways. If they think that 1 used book sale = 1 lost new book sale, as with piracy they'll be sorely disappointed.

  • Lots of considerations should go into this. What happens when someone passes away, does their mutli-thousand dollar music collection somehow become magically worthless? What about someone going through a divorce or a bankruptcy? Can these be considered assets and taken from one person and granted to another?

    The first sale doctrine needs to apply in common sense situations like this. If you buy something, including a license, it is only common sense that you would be able to resell it. That being said if a license is sold the original terms should also be accepted. I'm not advocating simply sharing it, I'm talking about removing it from one place putting it in another.

    People would never tolerate the loss of first sale doctrine in any other aspect of their life as it would be absurd. Can you imagine toyota demanding a transfer fee or the right of first refusal when you want to sell your car?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:20PM (#38064572)

    Either intellectual property is a physical good that can be legally acquired, owned, and resold as a used item, or it is not, in which case stop fucking calling it theft.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:21PM (#38064584)
    I wish I could get more excited about exploring the fundamental issues you raise, but I think we all know how this will turn out. Even if the judge rules in favor of reselling, a new law would be passed within a year or two to close this "loophole."
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:23PM (#38064628) Journal

    You do realize that Valve made Portal and Valve runs Steam, yes?

    So? He bought it in a box, but when he tried to install it found that the box is really just a gift certificate for a game tied to an online ID.

    That's why you need to install steam the same as you need to install Origin to run an EA game. It's their distribution system just like iTunes.

    No, actually it's why the last Valve game I bought was the original Half Life. They might think being their customer means that they get to control how I use the game that I purchased, but I disagree. Other people seem to be happy with it, so they stay in business, but I'm not going to help them (and no, I'm not going to pirate their stuff either - if they don't want to make it available in a form that I want to buy then I'll spend my money on something else).

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:28PM (#38064694) Journal

    No. The hint is in the name: copyright, i.e. the (exclusive) right to make copies of a work. The copyright owner has the right to make copies. When you buy a CD, you may get (either implicitly or explicitly, depending on your jurisdiction) the right to make a single backup copy and the right to copy portions of it into the memory of a playback device as required to listen to it, but you don't get the right to make arbitrary copies. Whether you sell the copy or give it away makes no difference. When you buy a track online, a copy is created, but by someone who is authorised by the copyright holder to make copies.

    It's going to be an interesting legal case because (practically) every 'move' operation on a computer is really a copy-and-delete-the-original operation, so the idea of selling the original doesn't really make sense because the original was an ephemeral copy in your network stack - the version on your hard disk is a copy of that, the version on your media player or on a backup disk is a copy of the copy.

  • Re:Meaningless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:29PM (#38064716)
    You're exchanging a use license. If the original user continues to use the data then they--so the theory goes--would be the violator and subject to litigation. I suspect this company is largely an attempt to test the laws regarding digital property rights. Along the way they probably hope to make some money to pay for the lawyers and with any luck continue the business model having won the recognition that digital and physical property rights may be considered one in the same.
  • Re:Meaningless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:30PM (#38064722) Journal

    There's no way to stop a user from retaining a copy of the file without yet *another* level of some nasty DRM

    How is this any different from used CDs? There's nothing stopping you from copying the CD and then selling it. In fact, there's nothing stopping you from just downloading the music and skipping the buying step altogether except the idea that you need to own a license to the music, and that license is what they are selling, the file itself is largely irrelevant.

  • by carrier lost (222597) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:38PM (#38064842) Homepage

    The hypocrisy is breathtaking, ain't it?

    For purposes of RIAA propaganda, making a copy of a song you bought is "stealing", just like physical property.

    But for their purpose of destroying the second-hand market, you never really owned the physical property in the first place, so you can't sell it.

  • Re:Honor system (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:39PM (#38064856)
    But how do they determine that I have not kept a copy? That's the crux of this. Who cares if I bought it legally. I still don't have the right to sell it to someone else unless I no longer have a copy. Who can prove this to be true?
  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:40PM (#38064872)

    So? He bought it in a box, but when he tried to install it found that the box is really just a gift certificate for a game tied to an online ID.

    Just like it says on the back of the box. Kinda hard to see in that picture, I know. It's not like he shouldn't have known exactly what he was buying, had he done due diligence.

    Now, that doesn't address the key point about whether you should be able to resell the games. I can definitely understand Valve's reluctance to allow it, however. For physical objects, used reduces the quality, and can be difficult to find and sell (usually occurs at extremely high premiums - say hi, Gamestop!). Digital copies don't degrade and can be bought and sold easily (instantly, and with no third-part premiums). Basically, it isn't impossible to imagine that a developer would sell only half (actually, that may even be optimistic) as many total copies as they otherwise would. Essentially, it would turn into game renting - except that with a sufficiently established system, the "renting" would be almost free (you could resell the game for, theoretically, exactly or only cents less than what you paid for it).

    It's really hard for me to get angry at Valve for not allowing that, especially with the insanely good sales they have on nearly constantly.

  • by carrier lost (222597) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:44PM (#38064920) Homepage

    What happens when someone passes away, does their mutli-thousand dollar music collection somehow become magically worthless?

    I always thought that it would be instructive for someone to stand in front of congress, hold up an MP3 player or phone and say, "There are 30,000 songs on this device. The Recording Industry insists that every one of those songs is worth at least a dollar. I have a great deal here for some lucky congressperson today - who wants to buy $30,000 worth of music for just five hunnert dollah?

    "Do I have any takers?"

  • by Jumperalex (185007) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:44PM (#38064930)

    That is not my problem. If the business model they have set up is not technically and realistically workable then come up with another model. Part of that new model will ahve to accept that the value of a digitial music license for which I have no transfer rights is then much less than the value of a physical music license which i can transfer via selling the phsyical storage medium.

    That is the real crux of this whole issue and one of the many reasons the ??AA like to play both sides of the fence. It prevents them having to address head on the loss of value inherent in a non-transferable license. The same goes for e-books BTW.

    I have no trouble with non-transferable licenses, but don't try to charge me the same price for it.

  • Re:Honor system (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AshtangiMan (684031) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:53PM (#38065102)
    Except the fair use doctrine allowed for copies to be made. You were allowed to make a tape copy of an LP for your own use (this was challenged by the record companies of course).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:00PM (#38065246)

    They've already been trying to do this.

    In the PC games market, tying games to Steam - I bought Portal 2, and discovered it required me to install Steam to get the install and get the fucking software to run.

    What does this mean? Well, I can make it run. But I can't, when done with it, give the copy (serial and all, uninstalled from my computer) to a family member or friend as a gift.

    iTunes does much the same thing. You can't buy something and then send it to someone else, in a "deleted from your account, credited to theirs instead" transaction.

    The cartels salivate at killing the used market because they think it means more sales.

    Gotta be perfectly honest here: Going by volume of whining alone, I'm apparently the single, solitary person left on this planet who doesn't sell every damn thing he owns the very picosecond I get bored with it*. No, seriously. I've never looked at a game I've had and thought to myself, "Man, it's absolutely vital that I get about 10% of the money I paid for this back; I mean, COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY VITAL, to the point where my inability to do so, coupled with my apparent lack of reading comprehension and research and a video gaming mindset stubbornly stuck somewhere in the 16-bit era where it was most convenient for me, renders this purchase nothing but a mistake".

    For me, long before "I MUST SELL THIS BACK VERY VERY SOON TO RECOUP MONEY" comes into my mind, the thought of "I most likely don't need this luxury item in the first place" wakes up and stops me from wasting my apparently precious money on this sort of thing if I need said money that badly.

    But apparently, again going solely on how loud the whining gets, that's just me. Guess I'm a "tool of the cartels", or whatever label the entitled generation wants to attach to me, because I'm actually responsible with my money BEFORE I spend it.

    Hint: Failing to get 10% of the price you paid for a game back by selling it is NOT what is keeping you from being rich, nor is failing to get gifted games a few months after release what is keeping your friends or family from being rich (especially since, given time on Steam, that same game will be around 75% off anyway).

    *: Solely because modern physics has yet to determine if time itself has granularity.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:15PM (#38065552)
    In the RIAA's view, you never really owned the physical property either and shouldn't have been able to resell that.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:23PM (#38065688)

    Sadly, I think we are headed more towards a "100 years from now" future where copyrights have been extended to 250 years (after all, that's "limited", right?) than a future where copyrights were kept at 95 years and content was allowed to fall into the public domain.

    Then again, a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago, movies were vastly different than they are today. They didn't even have sound. It's possible that 100 years from now, watching a 2011 movie would be as interesting to the average American as watching a silent movie is to the average American of today.

  • by poemofatic (322501) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:38PM (#38065990)

    But purchasers of books take resale value into account, so destroying the used book market may well mean that demand for books *decreases*:

    I've known people who buy (low brow) books to read once and then re-sell. It is a cost/convenience trade off. They could go to the library, but that's a hassle. Say the hassle is worth $8 bucks to them. They buy a book for $12, read it, and sell it back for $4.

    They are paying $8 in order to not deal with the library.

    Destroy the used book market, and now they need to pay $12 to read that low-brow book once. If it's not worth it, then they don't buy, and overall book demand may decrease. Detroit learned this lesson the hard way when they had the bright idea of building cars that weren't meant to last long enough to have a high re-sale value. The net result was *not* an increased demand for the product.

  • Re:Honor system (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bucky24 (1943328) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @06:14PM (#38066584)

    a CD, a downloaded MP3, and a book are all identical as far as copyright law is concerned

    Until the RIAA realize they can't get money this way and a new revision to the copyright is suddenly introduced in Congress.

  • Re:Honor system (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:16PM (#38067404)

    And a digital file is a copy, even if it's your only one.

    A book is a copy, even if it's your only one. Yet none of the anti-digital arguments work against print media. "You can't sell a book because nobody can prove you didn't photocopy the thing in its entirety before selling it." Nobody at the used book store cares, yet music sellers want selling music to be illegal because nobody can *prove* there wasn't a copy made.

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