Used MP3s Get A Major Legal Boost

We know, we know, we think “used” MP3s are kind of ridiculous too. But this is how ReDigi, the used MP3 store in question, works: you put your tracks (iTunes purchases only) up for sale, someone buys them, you don’t have them anymore, a share of the proceeds is sent to the artist.

Huh. Actually, that’s fairly sensible. And it’s not ripping anyone off, which is what a judge just ruled when Capitol Records demanded ReDigi be taken down like a cheap poster.

What makes this case interesting, beyond the fact that, hey, you can finally get those terrible tracks from college off your hard drive and make some money while you’re at it, is that it establishes the “first-sale” doctrine in the digital sphere. “First-sale” is pretty basic: if you buy, say, a DVD, while it does have copyrighted material on it, the disc is your property and you can, for example, sell it to a friend or donate it to a library, and the copyright holder has no right to block the sale.

This is a big deal because the one upside to media companies of digital copies was the fact that they were going to choke off all those used sales for good. The judgement didn’t offer any legal reasoning, and we’re assuming the music labels aren’t done yet: after all, there’s money to be had.

But this is still a major win for consumers everywhere, and it might soon mean companies like Apple will be forced to open up their systems. And that’s good for all of us.

(Image via ReDigi)