The Right To Resell: A Ticking Timebomb Over Digital Goods
There’s a brewing conflict over consumers’ rights to use platforms like ReDigi to resell their books, music and other digital property. Now libraries and companies like eBay and Redbox are leading a campaign to pass “You bought it, you own it” laws.
It’s easy to borrow a book from the library, rent a DVD or sell CDs to a local record store. Why, then, is it so hard to do the same when this content is in digital form? One reason is that laws that govern how we sell our stuff aren’t very compatible with digital content. As awareness of these issues builds, a war is brewing – with retailers and publishers on one side, and libraries, consumers, and startups on the other.
When you purchase a digital music track, e-book, digital movie or other type of downloaded content, you aren’t actually buying it, as you would a printed book or CD. Instead, you’re licensing it, in the same way that you license software. This means that you get rights to that content that the publisher defines in a license agreement, instead of those granted to you by copyright law.
Digital content licenses typically give users the right to play or read the content. But what if you want to sell, lend, or give away your digital files? Under U.S. copyright law, you’re allowed to do this for physical media products, thanks to a concept called the First Sale doctrine. First Sale says that the publisher has no control over what you do with a media product once you buy it. Used bookstores, video rental stores, and libraries all owe their existence to First Sale.
Yet current U.S. legal convention dictates that in most cases, First Sale doesn’t apply to digital files. Very few publishers or retailers give you the right to transfer your files to others. As a practical matter, “Digital First Sale” would mean that you could transfer ownership of your files to others legally as long as you delete your own copies – including backups, copies in cloud storage, and so on. This implies one of two things: either you are trusted to delete their copies, or there must be a robust, legally mandated mechanism that does it automatically.
Read the full story at Paidcontent.org...