One of the biggest legal fights in copyright right now is whether or not the “first-sale” doctrine applies to digital media. On the one side, gigantic corporations are arguing that even though you own a file that acts like a physical copy, all it’s sold you is the loosest software license in human history. On the other side, consumer advocates and retailers are arguing that digital media are products, bought and sold, and should be treated as such.
The courts have gone with the gigantic corporations on this one. For now, anyway.
Redigi, a company that sold your “used” MP3, was ruled to violate existing copyright law, according to the courts:
The court decided that no, users do not have the right to resell digital music files, as doing so violates existing copyright law. ReDigi, the judge found, is also liable for secondary copyright infringement and likely will have to pay damages.
It’s not clear whether Redigi will appeal the decision, although it has the option.
Of course, just because the record companies won this particular battle doesn’t mean they’ve won the war. Quite the opposite, actually: This is all a prelude to the really big legal fight, which will almost certainly be with Amazon.
But it does mean that, for now, if you want to buy your MP3s used, you’ll have to go to a record store, buy a CD, and rip it. Or just wait for Amazon to decide to do it for you.