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Apple and Amazon Flirt With a Market For Used Digital Items 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the authors-sharpening-their-pitchforks dept.
langelgjm writes "The New York Times reports that Apple and Amazon are attempting to patent methods of enabling the resale of digital items like e-books and MP3s. Establishing a large marketplace for people to buy and sell used digital items has the potential to benefit consumers enormously, but copyright holders aren't happy. Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, 'acknowledged it would be good for consumers — "until there were no more authors anymore."' But would the resale of digital items really be much different than the resale of physical items? Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?"
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Apple and Amazon Flirt With a Market For Used Digital Items

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  • Resale? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KermodeBear (738243) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:51PM (#43118665) Homepage

    Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?

    I don't think we need to look any further than this. Copyright holders have always hated the idea of resale of any kind; they think it loses them revenue.

    Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, I don't have any hard data in front of me. I can say that if I buy something and it's mine, then I should be able to do whatever I please with it.

    • Re:Resale? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PhotoJim (813785) <.ac.mijotohp. .ta. .mij.> on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:55PM (#43118697) Homepage

      They stand to lose more revenue than with physical products. Assuming the issues of DRM can be overcome, a used digital product works precisely the same as a new digital product. There is no discernable difference between the products when you use them. This is not true for physical goods like cameras, cars, houses, etc.

      • Re:Resale? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ganjadude (952775) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:00PM (#43118791) Homepage
        how do you figure they stand to lose more revenue? for one, no overhead (or much less) to host a few meg/gig file than to have a warehouse of 1 million books. Secondly the secondary market has not hurt book authors to the extent that we no longer have authors, why would this be any different? These copyrights holders want to sell you "the right to view/read/listen to X" but they dont want to allow you to own X. that is the key issue at hand.
        • Re:Resale? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:08PM (#43118925)
          Probably because used digital goods are more appealing than non digital used goods. If I buy a used book, pages may be torn, it might have writing inside "this is for Dave, thanks for being Dave", or it might have coffee stains. A used digital book has none of these problems. This is going to impact the market significantly. Why buy a new copy for $10 when I can buy an identical copy for $3?

          Unless of course they figure out a way to add the coffee stains digitally. THEN we're talking.
          • by JWW (79176)

            Of course when distributing the $10 digital book, the publisher has costs of nearly $0 to make each copy that is distributed.

            That is why I do not buy digital books. They are charging me the same as for a physical (hardcover no less!!) book when their handling costs for distributing books have virtually disappeared. Can't pass those savings on to the customer, no way!! Plus let make it as cumbersome to use as possible.

            Note to publishers, we're not your freaking peasants who owe you a special offering to b

            • by noh8rz10 (2716597)
              dupe? i swear this exact story appeared on slashdot yesterday.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              They are charging me the same as for a physical (hardcover no less!!) book when their handling costs for distributing books have virtually disappeared. Can't pass those savings on to the customer, no way!! Plus let make it as cumbersome to use as possible.

              This is quite interesting actually. I have seen many times on Amazon that the kindle version is more expensive than the hard cover.
              It's a bit why should I buy the digital version? Ok, sure, storage space and bandwidth might be some costs, but I really don't think it is more expensive than warehouse costs.

              Note to publishers, we're not your freaking peasants who owe you a special offering to be privileged to use your books on our devices, but only how you see fit.

              Oh, but we are. The same thing applies to everything that is digital. I believe if the copyright holders (not only for books) could get as they wanted, they would only want us to buy the items, but not to b

          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            If I buy a used book, pages may be torn, it might have writing inside "this is for Dave, thanks for being Dave", or it might have coffee stains.

            The stuff I find inside used books is half the fun!
            Plus, far too many authors are dead and their contracts included no mention of digital rights.
            There's going to be a huge number of out-of-print books that never make it into a digital format.

            • by MitchDev (2526834)

              Plus, far too many authors are dead and their contracts included no mention of digital rights.
              There's going to be a huge number of out-of-print books that never make it into a digital format.

              Not officially at least...

            • I once found a ribbon from 'Daughters of the Ku Klux Klan' tucked inside a family bible I bought at an auction. It looked like the kind of ribbon that would have gone on flowers or something from a wedding.

              You can find creepy things inside old books.

          • by Lazere (2809091)
            As apposed to the situation now? While I honestly can't figure out what the purpose of used digital goods would be, they certainly won't harm anybody. There's already a huge market of "used" digital goods out there today on various sites. So, then, why would I buy a "used" copy for $3 when I can go to TPB and get a copy for $0?
            • Because you have honor. You respect an author's time in making something for you, the reader. With luck, you enjoyed that. Without impetus, fame not feeding a family, authors go away. Maybe they become musicians. Oh, wait....

          • by ganjadude (952775)
            but until someone has bought it for 10$, giving that money to the rightsholder, there are no 3$ copies. Also what happens when amazon stops carrying said book in the ecatalog?
            • by Anonymous Coward

              Correction:

              Until someone buys it for $10, there are no $0 copies. If I buy a book, and my buddy wants to read it, I can "sell" it to him for $0. (This is called "lending" and the copyright cartels hate it.) Then, he can "sell" it back to me for $0. That way, only one of us has to shell out the cash for the book.

              Now expand this from "buddy" to "town" and you've described a library.

              Now expand this from "town" to "world" and throw in digital media and you've described the Internet.

              Content was always effectivel

          • by Pausanias (681077)

            Physical storage devices (books, CDs, DVDs) were inconvenient necessities required for publishers to make sale.

            Wide availability of broadband means such storage devices are no longer required. They will be done away with, and everything wil be kept on the server. And licensed.

            In another decade, this idea of "owning" software and books and music will seem quaint and antiquated, much like the idea of gold-backed currency.

            • Or, in a decade, I'll still have a bunch of books, which I continue buying, and you'll have... well... whatever the 'rights owners' deem appropriate to allow you to have.

          • by Fned (43219)

            Why buy a new copy for $10 when I can buy an identical copy for $3?

            More importantly, why SELL a new copy for $10 when an identical copy is worth $0.00?!?!

            It's more apparent now than ever that granting exclusive right to sell a product that has no value is a rapidly obsolescing business model. "Publisher advances money to author, author produces work, publisher produces copies of work and tries to sell them to recoup costs" DOES NOT WORK when the value of any individual copy of the work approaches zero.

            "Audience advances money to author, author produces work, audience pro

            • More importantly, why SELL a new copy for $10 when an identical copy is worth $0.00?!?!

              It's more apparent now than ever that granting exclusive right to sell a product that has no value is a rapidly obsolescing business model. "Publisher advances money to author, author produces work, publisher produces copies of work and tries to sell them to recoup costs" DOES NOT WORK when the value of any individual copy of the work approaches zero.

              Here's a thought experiment. You live in a tribe of 10 people. Your tribe is attacked by a tribe of 100. They want to kill you all. Do you fight back?

              Of course you do. Even though fighting back means that more people will die than if you took no action, you value the lives of your tribe over the lives of strangers.

              Value is subjective, and value is not the same as "cost".

              "Audience advances money to author, author produces work, audience produces copies of work" is the way of the future, people should start getting used to it.

              But that doesn't work either, because you don't know if you want a product before it exists. Only the most ardent fans buy sight-unse

        • by Anonymous Coward

          for one, no overhead (or much less) to host a few meg/gig file than to have a warehouse of 1 million books.

          That's inconsequential to the copyright holders, since they have no overhead for used items in the first place.

          Secondly the secondary market has not hurt book authors to the extent that we no longer have authors, why would this be any different?

          Why, because it's on the Internet! OH GOD EVERYTHING IS CHANGED!

          But you're absolutely correct - a healthy used market is not going to ruin industries. Libraries haven't killed Publishers; Blockbuster didn't kill Hollywood; Funcoland (remember them?) didn't kill Vidya Games.

        • Re:Resale? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PhotoJim (813785) <.ac.mijotohp. .ta. .mij.> on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:14PM (#43118995) Homepage

          Presumably there is a markup in their products and at the end, there is some sort of marginal profit. Otherwise there is no point in providing this electronic product.

          If you can buy a product - let's say a book - as an electronic product, and you can buy it from eBooks Inc. for $10 or used from who knows whom for $2, and there is no discernable difference between the products, which would you buy?

          Normally we might prefer new products to used because they are in new condition, include all accessories, etc., come with instructions, and so on, but none of these issues apply to electronic books or music or videos. You have them, or you don't. There is nothing else to own.

          At the end of the day, that profit that the new product vendor would realize is now gone, and the cut of the sale price that would go to the ebook author or musician is gone, now, too. So there absolutely is a difference.

          • Why should copyrighted work get special treatment just because it doesn't follow the rules of decay? This should be shouted as a triumph, not lamented as a loss to creativity.
            • by Goaway (82658)

              "Copyright" is, by definition, special treatment. And we grant that special treatment because we want to encourage people to create things.

              We could have gotten cheaper physical books a long time ago if we just abolished copyright and let anyone publish anything, and compete on price. However, that would destroy the incentive to create new things.

              With digital things, we can crash the price even lower, all the way to zero. This does not mean it is a good thing to do so.

              • by MitchDev (2526834)

                Well, it would destroy the incentive for people who expect to create one thing and live their whole lives off it.

                I don't think Bach, Beethoven, DiVinci, etc. had copyright yet they created a LOT...

                • Bach, Beethoven, DiVinci all had rich patrons sponsoring their work. Also, there was no means at the time of mass-producing their works.

                • by Goaway (82658)

                  Guess what? Those people exist only inside your head.

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              Why should copyrighted work get special treatment just because it doesn't follow the rules of decay? This should be shouted as a triumph, not lamented as a loss to creativity.

              Simply put, because decay is the only thing that makes nontrivial copyright duration (beyond the time it takes to read or watch something once) meaningful.

              With decay, there is a nonzero cost per consumer, because eventually the media fails and must be replaced. That cost, small as it might be, produces much of the content creator's pr

          • Now, assume that, if I bought the ebook, I could only sell it once, like a physical book.

            If I can find a used copy, I will (this also applies to physical books in general). The difference here is friction costs, and those have become a lot lower since used bookstores got on the net. No difference there.

            If I can't, suppose I buy a new copy. With the opportunity for resale, I'm betting $8 rather than $10 that the book is reasonably good. This makes it a bit more of an impulse purchase, and will get m

        • by sjbe (173966) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:48PM (#43119413)

          how do you figure they stand to lose more revenue? for one, no overhead (or much less) to host a few meg/gig file than to have a warehouse of 1 million books.

          Revenue is not the same thing as Profit. Revenue is how much you sell, Profit is how much you keep. Profit = (Revenue - Expenses). Just because Expenses are lower with digital media doesn't mean a thing by itself. Most of the costs for this sort of media are fixed so Revenue can drop without Expenses falling. If Revenue falls far enough then the company will lose money. It is logical that their revenue might fall but it doesn't automatically follow that they will become unprofitable.

          Of course the whole notion of a digital items aftermarket is a bit peculiar...

          • However, most of the expenses are fixed. The publisher spends money up front to produce a nice ebook, and then has a nice ebook that can be sold indefinitely at trivial additional expense. It costs the same to edit a book if it sells one or a million copies. Once the publisher has recouped original expenses, each additional copy sold is (except for royalties) almost pure profit.

            • However, most of the expenses are fixed. The publisher spends money up front to produce a nice ebook, and then has a nice ebook that can be sold indefinitely at trivial additional expense.

              It is trivial expense to produce but not trivial expense to sell. The model is very similar to software companies. Only about 10% of a software company's expenses are in engineering. The vast majority of the cost is in sales, marketing and overhead. Production of an ebook is similar to production of software - up front fixed costs that are recouped over time. Most of the costs to digital publishers are not in editing or production (their version of engineering). Most of their costs like software compa

        • Secondly the secondary market has not hurt book authors to the extent that we no longer have authors, why would this be any different?

          Because the number of physical books sold as new items is significantly higher than the number of books that recirculate on the second-hand market. Books are variously: retained, temporarily mislaid, lost, destroyed, binned, burned and recycled. Some are used in art projects, or cut up to write old-fashioned ransom notes. Many are even used as ornaments in pubs that want to look classy.

          This loss of stock simply doesn't happen if your copy is virtual and linked to an Amazon user account, replicated redund

      • Re:Resale? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:02PM (#43118819) Journal

        It's almost true for books. In 99% of the time, a book from a used book store or library functions identically to a brand new book. Maybe the spine has a crease, but that doesn't really affect your use of the book.

        Authors have survived for centuries with people redistributing used books. They will survive for centuries more with people redistributing used ebooks.

        • Re:Resale? (Score:4, Informative)

          by bobbied (2522392) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:07PM (#43118897)
          Yes, but you cannot instantly create 10 copies of a book, sell them to be used in 10 different locations. A physical book is it's own "copy protection" in that you cannot simply hit a button, duplicate it, then transfer the copy to somebody else to use.
          • Re:Resale? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ediron2 (246908) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:43PM (#43119343) Journal

            Until PDF's got to be easier, grad school with internationals gave me a lot of exposure to pirated books out of China, India, Brazil, etc. Everything matches except for the paper quality (had a faint-formaldehyde smell).

            Books have cloned quite nicely for centuries. And there's preexisting laws to deal with them. Copyright, however, never superceded the doctrine of first sale. And yet now we're getting sold digital media that copies easier but is denied via other channels.

            Three reasonable non-pirate use cases come to mind:
            - buying and selling used content.
            - transfer of an estate's content (who gets my vinyl when I die, vs. who gets my itunes catalog when I die)
            - transfer of content purchased for a minor child, when that child is old enough to open an account (13 or 18 or whatever). News recently had this with a content buyer vs. Steam. This varies from the 2nd because derivative data (characters, experience, etc) makes 'just buy a new one' deeply unacceptable without transfer of that additional data.

        • Re:Resale? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:14PM (#43118983) Journal

          It's almost true for books. In 99% of the time, a book from a used book store or library functions identically to a brand new book. Maybe the spine has a crease, but that doesn't really affect your use of the book.

          Authors have survived for centuries with people redistributing used books. They will survive for centuries more with people redistributing used ebooks.

          I suspect that, for books, what really scares them(at least the ones that are actually thinking, and not just bitching about anything that stands between them and their dream of getting paid per-eyeball-per-second for everything the've ever touched) would be an efficient secondary market.

          Used books, barring serious abuse, retain condition well; but the market for them is physically segregated: New and used books are often sold through different channels(except textbooks, which usually hover right over their target population), in different stores, etc.

          So long as that is the case, the impact is blunted. If, say, Amazon were able to add a checkbox to the Kindle that allowed a user to 'sell' a book for half what they bought it for(probably in Amazon credit rather than cash) and then Amazon seamlessly and immediately offered that 'copy' for sale to the very next person who went to buy a copy(and, since they wouldn't have to pay the publisher anything, they could presumably offer a modest discount off 'new' and still make a much greater margin), then the publisher could be up shit creek.

          • The margin on the books are somewhere around 50% so Amazon would want to push the new book in your example, but that is more an issue of the numbers you are pulling together then the actual point. That is a valid point though that it would be seemless to buy the product used instead of new. I think it will become similar to large video games where you make a significant portion of the money on people buying it as early as they can when the used/pirated market does not exist.

            It will be interesting to see
          • It may hurt the sale of a book, but may increase sales of books in general. Basically once there enough books old that there is always one up for resale then no one will buy a new one so the sale of a single book might end sooner. However the net affect is people are able to anonymously pool their money to buy more books.
        • by PhotoJim (813785)

          You bring up a valid point - a used book is as useful as a new book. Still, a new book is nicer to read and many people prefer them to used books.

          This disappears entirely when it comes to digital products, so I fully expect the used market of digital goods to be significantly more popular than used markets of physical goods.

          I make no comment as to the desirability of this - just my predictions of human behaviour.

        • by alen (225700)

          the problem is getting the book into the used market. a lot of people would just throw the book out because the prices paid by the used book stores like Strand were too low for most people to take the time to sell their books

          in a digital market that is yet to be seen and the uncertainty is what scares everyone

      • by jxander (2605655)

        This is partly true. Sure, if I sell you my old digital copy of Harry Potter, it won't suffer any physical damage like a real book ... but you're still a decade behind the times. Value is more than the physical condition of an item.

        The hard part (from a copyright-holder perspective) is ensuring loss on the part of a seller. If I sell a physical item, I no longer have the item. If I make a copy of my ebook, well now we both have a copy.

      • There is no discernable difference between the products when you use them. This is not true for physical goods like cameras, cars, houses, etc.

        This is simply not true for books. A used physical book is no different than a new physical book. They both contain the same words. The both deliver the same data to the user. With music it might be true. Scratches on disk cause data to be lost. But it was never true for books.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        There is no discernable difference between the products when you use them. This is not true for physical goods like cameras, cars, houses, etc.

        But is is pretty much true for books, CDs, DVDs,. Even used vinyl records, cassette tapes if treated with care sound as good as new.

        98% of the books I buy are used. Or from a library.

        The difference is that you don't get them as easily or as quickly as the new ones, and maybe you have to wait for a copy t be offered.

        Basically, as long as the previous owner has not kept a copy, same as with physical media.

        They stand to lose more revenue than with physical products.

        Compared with the current situation where there is virtually no legal resale of digital media, of

    • Re:Resale? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:04PM (#43118867)

      The part of this that's annoying to me is not the resale of digital goods part ... that should be assumed to be acceptable in the same way as any or goods are resold. The part I find annoying is that these weasels are patenting methods of doing it. I have a lot of trouble believing that anything they propose is original or not obvious.

      • This. Seems hypocritical to me to say, "sure, anyone can resell any digital goods *that they own* but only as long as they use *my method* (implied "cut me a slice of every transaction) to do it."

        What's to stop someone deciding to "resell" the "digital good" of "buying and selling owned digital items [on the internets]."

        You can't maintain the copyright integrity on your creation, but I can maintain it on mine due to stupid patent laws?

        • I strongly doubt that the patents contain anything of worth(essentially all internet-connected DRM systems already include platform authorization, platform de-authorization, and a payment system, which is all you need to support selling, 'gifting', returns, and resale, so I'd be hard pressed to see anything worth mentioning on top of what already exists); but (given that the only reason that 'digital resale' is a novelty is because of DRM systems), I suspect they contain plenty of flowcharts and arrows, and

    • Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?

      I don't think we need to look any further than this. Copyright holders have always hated the idea of resale of any kind; they think it loses them revenue.

      Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, I don't have any hard data in front of me. I can say that if I buy something and it's mine, then I should be able to do whatever I please with it.

      I think you'll find that copyright holders (that's anyone who produces content -- most of us) fall on both sides of this fence. The people who have always hated the idea of resale of any kind are the _publishers_ who are currently in dominant market positions. Lack of resale of digital media has been their saving grace with the dwindling of their traditional analog market. Merge the two, and their role in the dissemination of copyrightable material dwindles to that of first sale marketing.

    • Re:Resale? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by marcello_dl (667940) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:06PM (#43118895) Homepage Journal

      The simplest explanation is that Apple and Amazon are patenting the idea of dealing with used copies so that nobody can sell used stuff anymore.

      The slightly more difficult explanation, if you don't consider copyright holder in the same boat as app store (a sale is a sale for both, most of the time) is that they want to use the used stuff card to cheat copyright holders on the real amount of digital stuff sold.

      Other interpretations seem too far fetched :)

    • It's not really resale they are talking about, it's license transfer.

    • by MitchDev (2526834)

      Yeah, been singing...err SAYING this for years (they might sue me for singing...)

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      It seems as if less and less is actually "yours" nowadays.
    • Copyright holders have always hated the idea of resale of any kind; they think it loses them revenue.

      They're dumb if that's what they're doing. Something's price is the same as its resale value. So the odds are that items that are sold digitally will have higher value if people know they can resell them.

      Looking at it as "resales eat into original sales so we'll prohibit them" means a lot of people who know that won't buy in the first place. It's much better to say "let's encourage a secondary market so people know they can always sell stuff if they buy it but later decide they don't want it".

      In fact it wou

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      Reselling allows consumers to acquire content at places lower than the equilibrium on a supply and demand curve.

      Without reselling the creators price it what they want and people unwilling to pay that much never get it without pirating.

      If they'd simply reduce prices along a time scale they'd naturally pick up a larger portion of those lower priced sales as the demand drops.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Copyright holders hate resale because they're greedy bastards that want everyone to buy only from them.

      It's not even illegal and they'll still sue over it.

  • Hey Scott! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:55PM (#43118705) Journal

    Remember the tragic story of how centuries of people being able to freely sell/lend/whatever the fuck they want printed books exterminated all authors and creativity, leaving only a scarred wasteland, bereft of culture and picked clean by locusts?

    Oh, wait, neither do I. Because. It. Didn't. Fucking. Happen.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately. We. Lost. The. Ability. To. Write. Properly.

    • Re:Hey Scott! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:09PM (#43118949)
      Well, used printed books have defects. Digital used books will not, unless Amazon/Apple adds digitally ripped pages and coffee stains. In that case why wouldn't potential buyers opt for the cheaper yet identical used digital copy? Surely that will impact the market.
      • by Lithdren (605362)

        I dont know about you, but the digital copies of books I own are all chalk full of defects. Missing words, incorrect words, sentences in the wrong order even in a few cases. Doesn't seem to impact the market value when they sold it to me, that's for sure...

        • A lot of eBooks are based on either "First Edition" or "Advanced Reader Copy" texts, and never updated. I bet many of the DRM creating programs for big publishers require royalty payments every time it's used, so updating the copy to the latest edition costs money.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Cute, but we didn't have digital goods as they are today, centuries ago. And DRM is slowly going away. How are they going to deal with people buying a song and then reselling it? As far as the old music companies are concerned, it's all just lost sales.

  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:58PM (#43118759)

    They say own it now which implies resale is allowed.
    If you try (like on Ebay with Windows CDs) you get told no, it's licenced only. you do NOT own it.

    So if it's licensed, you should have access to replacement media when you trash your disc.
    If you try they tell you go buy a new copy like the others.

    They want it both ways
    and terms of life + 70 years is not long enough.

    • "Authors. They go both ways." - denis-The-menace

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      They say own it now which implies resale is allowed. If you try (like on Ebay with Windows CDs) you get told no, it's licenced only. you do NOT own it.

      Because that is the truth. You don't own a copy of it, you own a license to use it within the terms of the license agreement. Many license agreements these days do NOT allow the transfer to a third party. That E-Bay doesn't allow these kinds of items to be listed is basically because they don't want folks who don't know any better from being ripped off or sold licenses that cannot be transferred and then having to deal with all the customer complaints such sales would produce. Can't blame them.

      If you nee

      • "Because that is the truth. You don't own a copy of it,"

        The whole idea of software licensing is suspect to begin with since it took advantage of public ignorance of technology. The whole idea of licensing is con-artistry.

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          I don't disagree with you about the way software is licensed being distasteful, but it is what it is.

          You are free to develop your own software and license it any way you choose, so you can change how things are done. Just write software that everybody wants and the world will be yours. Where I don't like how huge software companies license their wares, it is their software and they can license it any way they see fit, just like you can.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      You own the media, you license the content. You own your car, you license the right to drive it on a public highway. Strangely, when you total your car the state does not give you a new one.

      • by Lithdren (605362)

        Considering I didn't buy the car from the state, this shouldn't suprise anyone. Course now that we've bailed them all out, im not sure where that might stand at this point, but that's a completly different question.

        If you own the media, but license the content, that means you should be able to request a new copy of the media, at cost of the media, not the license of the content that you've already paid. Oddly, this isn't an option either, so your argument is false in two different cases.

      • And yet, amazingly, if you should damage your disc they won't send you another one for a nominal or zero fee. You have to re-buy the movie or music at prevailing retail rates - essentially resulting in you owning two licenses and only one piece of media.

        Software is going away from this model with free downloads and licensing controlled by DRM - if you lose your copy you can download another for free, using your old installation serial number to re-install it.

    • by Pausanias (681077)

      So they'll stop saying "own it now." Everything will be licensed. End of story.

      Who'll stop buying? Me? You? Maybe. Most people? Nah, they've already been convinced to switch away from "own it."

      Just pay the rent, pay the rent, and we'll keep on streaming to you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:59PM (#43118771)

    Copyright thrives on the idea of artificial scarcity. There is no scarcity on the internet.

    As people have been saying for quite some time (TechDirt comes to mind), the only way to make money off of digital content is to make the person want to pay you money even in the event you do not control access, distribution or resale of your works.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      This is insightful? Seriously?

      First of all, how does a concept like copyright 'thrive'? The whole idea of that makes no sense.

      What copyright does is ENFORCE the idea of artificial scarcity, which things like the internet makes even more important if the goals of copyright are to be obtained (encouraging people to produce stuff other people want).

      • by Fned (43219)

        This is insightful?

        Yes.

        What copyright does is ENFORCE the idea of artificial scarcity,

        Incorrect. Books produced without copyright ARE STILL SCARCE. They still cost something to make, and they still have intrinsic value, even if the printer doesn't pay the author. Copyright in pre-digital media is helpful BECAUSE books exist in a market that has scarcity, because you can't produce books at lower cost than someone who doesn't have to pay the author to produce the work.

        The problem with copyright on the Internet is that digital copies are NOT scarce. They have zero intrinsic value, and canno

  • With e-books (Score:5, Interesting)

    by razorh (853659) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:03PM (#43118835)
    How about they just sell them for a reasonable price (ie. not equal to or more than physical books) at which point there would be no need for reselling.
    • by alen (225700)

      the costs of printing the book are tiny compared to the multiple editors, making the cover, and other costs of bringing a book to market.

      not like the author just writes a book. it takes 3 or more people to read it and correct hundreds of mistakes, send it back to the authoer, reread it, etc

      • by Anonymous Coward

        True and irrelevant. Writing, editing, making the cover, all of that, is a one-time, sunk cost.

        With physical books, there is a per-book cost that the seller absolutely must exceed in order to make up for the sunk costs. They can't price the book below what it costs to print it and make up the difference in volume because they would lose money on every copy they sold.

        With ebooks, the per-book cost is essentially zero. Theoretically they could charge one cent per book and still make up for the sunk costs i

  • No more authors? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gregthebunny (1502041) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:03PM (#43118857) Journal

    "until there were no more authors anymore."

    Yes, because this free market will somehow manage to write its own books. There will never be a need to generate new content, ever.

    • Re:No more authors? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:15PM (#43119001)

      First, you could argue that there is currently more media in the form of books, movies and music than any person could ever read/watch/listen in a single lifetime, many times over. So the "need" to create "new" content relative to each person is currently nil and has been for decades. However, this is only a quantitative argument because media evolves with its era. Science-fiction from the 1940's seems simple and prehistoric from our 2013 point of view.

      The second argument would be that there will always be authors. People who love to write stories and compose music will do so with or without financial compensation. It's the same with inventors, who create things because they have the need to create. If it becomes popular and the inventor starts making money because of it, that's only a nice side-effect.

      Do not confuse needs with greed. People will always create, even after this concept of "currency" is long gone.

      • "...inventors, who create things because they have the need to create. If it becomes popular and the inventor starts making money because of it, that's only a nice side-effect."

        Just like the ability to eat and keep out of the weather are nice side-effects.

        The biggest problem with digital resale comes from the fact that the creator only can truly "sell" one thing, before having to compete with the devaluing of his or her own work. I sell one book through amazon, then immediately, *amazon* gets to re-sell tha

        • by Lazere (2809091)
          I think you're misunderstanding the system the propose. Essentially, both Amazon and Apple want to create the same type of marketplace in the digital realm as currently exist in the physical one. It won't be "sell one copy to Amazon and they copy and sell that one infinitely". The system they're proposing would create the artificial scarcity needed for a second hand market. It will be, I buy a book from Amazon (who will send royalties to you), when I don't want the book anymore, *I'll* sell it to someone el
  • With the DRM those stores provide, they should provide the platform for us to sell our DRM'ed digital files, since it can be assured that we won't be able to sell an infinite number of them (unlike the publisher). Adding the ability to sell "used" digital DRM files would be a win for consumers, but it would hurt publishers. My guess is that it won't happen.

  • by wikthemighty (524325) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:15PM (#43119015)
    While I'm not so thrilled with their Capsule DRM system, Green Man Gaming [greenmangaming.com] has had a system in place to trade in digital games for some time now. I believe the developer gets to set whether or not a game can be traded in.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:41PM (#43119303)

    The bottom line is any resale model will have to use DRM. There is no conceivable way to do this with non-protected content. You can't resell digital content if there is no guarantee that the original copy will no longer be used by the original owner So yes, if you value saving a few cents off a $0.99 song or app then you are going to have to embrace DRM (meaning to bend over), period.

    What Apple and Amazon REALLY want to do is start charging you $30 for an app, movie, book or album under the guise of allowing you to recover some of that financial loss through resale, only to get more money for every future resell of the product. You might get $15 back by reselling a movie, but then Apple and Amazon are going to sett up their resale system to sell back the item for $20, just like the way Gamestop sells used games.

    These companies are not going it for our good they are doing it to get more money out of us by ultimately charging more for content and continuing to reap a profit off of content long after it has been "sold". Anybody thinking digital content resale is a good thing is oblivious to common sense and the greed of these companies.

    I would prefer the price of content to be so cheap I don't care about recovering back financial investment. There is no reason to resell a $0.99 "thing", Nobody resells a cold cup of coffee. There is every reason to resell something that costs real money and its is obvious Apple and Amazon want us to start paying more money for stuff up front under the guise of giving us an opportunity to sell it to someone else. Just sell it to use for a decent price and end this stupidity.

    • by swb (14022)

      It's clear they are setting themselves up as middlemen, I don't see why they would bother with digital resale. I would think they would rather move further away from "purchase" and more into the subscription system where you pay continuously but never own anything -- netflix, spotify, etc.

      There's just no percentage for anyone in digital resale, it's a concept that doesn't work unless they come up with some way of creating an uncopyable (and thus unposessable) digital file that somehow can have its ownershi

    • by rm0659 (2318932)
      there might be no reason to resell a single $0.99 thing, but if you have 10,000 or 20,000 of those things then it could be very much worth your while, even with a hefty discount.
    • by guruevi (827432)

      Why would they sell the app for $20 "used" when the new is exactly the same (from a bit-by-bit comparison view) and gives them $10 extra in pure profit?

  • Digital today has the problem of no permanent physical medium to contain it. A book will eventually wear out and need replaced. A CD will eventually become scratched. There is no loss in quality or experience when we are talking about content stored on a drive with a backup in the cloud. its the same experience each and every time no matter how many times its sold, traded, or read. The easy fix is for artistic producers to just keep producing new, original, content that people will want to buy. Gone are the
  • ....... Mr Turow you are not losing money due to piracy, you don't sell as many books because your new ones suck compared to your older work. Quit your bitching and write good books again.
    • by rnturn (11092)

      Plus... he may have hit the limit of how many legal thrillers/mysteries/whatever the public has a stomach for. It's not like he has no competition in the genre, either.

      What I found most offensive about his comment is that he seems to think it should be OK for an author to write a single book and the author should have exclusive rights to the proceeds of the book's sales for N hundred years (whatever "N" is nowadays). It's gotten so bad that I expect that the next copyright law extension will grant those ri

  • Simple solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ciurana (2603) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:01PM (#43119573) Homepage Journal

    The solution is simple and elegant: since these sales will take place over their stores, for items that came from Kindle/App Store anyway, they could have a small revenue share percentage with the copyright holder.

    Someone should tell these guys that the alternative is what I do when I'm pissy at Amazon: Calibre to strip Digital Restrictions Management, dump to PDF, share to my heart's content.

    Cheers!

    E

  • How do you tell the difference between used 1's and 0's and brand spanking new 1's and 0's? In the digital world there is no such thing as used. What makes something used in the real world is wear and tear. That's why we have levels of use and pricing for used items. "Like New" and Abused All To Hell." I don't get it.
    • Replace used with preowned. Preowned items exist in digital. These media companies sold people goods in stores. People purchased things using "Buy" buttons. They recieved reciepts for their purchases. The licencing of these goods is legal fiction. Judges in Europe have already ruled that resale rights exists. So it makes sense for these companies to start implimenting solutions before they get fined.
    • by ciurana (2603)

      My point is to give the copyright holders a piece of the action so they STFU. That small % would be much better than the time invested into searching Usenet or other sites for an illegal download of a rare title, for example.

      We here all know about Usenet, torrents, etc. and we also know that, if we look hard enough, everything is free. I would rather have a legitimized system that has rules, than the options of only first sale or piracy. This way we can all move forward and have models that work (lower c

  • The problem is, it doesn't really make sense.

    Copyright is not and ever has been about an inherent moral right to have exactly the same rights as with physical objects. It's a purely practical measure to encourage people to create. The majority are actually happy with this concept, and find the physical property metaphor easy to understand and apply.

    But we don't need exactly the same rights. The owner of a non-physical object just needs to feel that they're not losing out. A mechanism for resale is one w
  • First Sale Doctrine vs. copyright/trademark/patent owners is a balancing act between the originator and the buyer. Take away the privileges of either side, or grant additional powers to one side or the other, and the system becomes unbalanced... corrupted. Simply put, both pieces of legislation must remain intact, and must continue to exist in balance, or we all lose -- one way or another.

  • Is it like a "used gun"? (Lord of War)
  • Cluebat primed and waiting. Applemazon execs please line up.
  • I do see the point of the copy-write holders here as much as I don't like to admit it. To me the reason I buy new books is because I don't want other people to touch them. I want them entirely to be mine. It's some weird thing about having it all to myself and not sharing I don't know. Now if I were to translate that to digital copies I don't care. I'm never going to get to crack the spine, earmark the page I'm on or what ever. you send me your digital copy and it's no different at all from being new.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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