ENTRIES TAGGED "ReDigi"
Amazon's AutoRip service could further complicate matters
Over the past few weeks we’ve seen some landmark decisions on whether you really own that content you bought and if you can resell it. First, in the Kirtsaeng vs. Wiley case we learned that it’s OK to buy low-priced print books from overseas, ship them to the U.S. and resell them for a profit. That’s a victory for the middleman entrepreneur and everyone frustrated with high-priced textbooks. Well, it’s a victory till publishers raise their overseas prices to be more in line with U.S. prices, at which point students in those foreign countries lose.
Next, we have the federal ruling against ReDigi on the digital content resale front. I’m hoping ReDigi appeals but for now this means you can’t sell your iTunes library, for example. That ruling is considered a victory for labels (and publishers as ReDigi is looking to move into used ebook sales) and a loss for consumers.
This wasn't the outcome I was anticipating
Wow. I’m very surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Kirtsaeng vs. Wiley case. I figured it would go the other way. Here’s a nice summary of the majority opinion from the Supreme Court (you’ll find more detailed analysis here):
Putting section numbers to the side, we ask whether the “first sale” doctrine applies to protect a buyer or other lawful owner of a copy (of a copyrighted work) lawfully manufactured abroad. Can that buyer bring that copy into the United States (and sell it or give it away) without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner? Can, for example, someone who purchases, say at a used bookstore, a book printed abroad subsequently resell it without the copyright owner’s permission?
In our view, the answers to these questions are, yes. We hold that the “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.
It can be so much more than simply lower-priced versions of the original work
Amazon has a patent and now Apple does too. I’m talking about the techniques both companies might use to let you resell your digital content. They join ReDigi, who already offers a platform to resell your digital music.
Ebooks are next, of course, and the concern I hear isn’t so much about the legal aspect but rather the risk of cannibalization. Most publishers seem hung up on the notion that a used ebook sale will mean one less original sale for them. And even if they participate in the used ebook revenue stream, they’re concerned that the selling price will be lower, so they’ll make less when cannibalization happens. I think that’s a very shortsighted view of the opportunity.
Apple's used digital content patent, B&N's uncertain fate, and Ev Williams chats with Jason Calacanis about Medium.
Apple patent points to used digital resale
Quick on Amazon’s heels, Apple has filed its own patent for selling or loaning used digital content, including ebooks, music, movies, and software applications. Mikey Campbell reported at Apple Insider that the patent, published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, “provides for the authorized access to digital content, otherwise known as digital rights, to be transferred from one user to another.” He noted that Apple’s patent differs from Amazon’s in that Amazon’s establishes a marketplace environment and Apple’s “decentralizes the process by taking the online store out of the equation.” Campbell quoted from the patent:
“Alternatively, instead of a third party determining whether one or more criteria are satisfied, the first (or second) user’s device makes the determination and may be responsible for preventing the first user’s device from further consuming the digital content item. In some embodiments, the online store and/or the publisher of the digital content item may receive a portion of the proceeds of the transfer.”
Bill Rosenblatt untangles several thorny areas of IP distribution and ownership
Our TOC theme this month is “legal” and I thought it would be interesting to have a conversation with Bill Rosenblatt covering a variety of topics in the legal realm. Bill is a recognized authority on intellectual property in the online world. He’s also an author of the Copyright and Technology blog as well as the founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies.
Key points from the interview include:
- Copyright vs. Creative Commons — As Bill says, “copyright law is a huge mess”, and Creative Commons (CC) is a viable alternative. CC has never fully embraced the commercial content community though. CC also doesn’t really make enforcement of IP ownership any easier.
- Libraries and sales vs. licensing — I feel our industry is overcomplicating the library channel situation but Bill explains how digital content isn’t subject to copyright but rather to whatever licensing terms are being offered. Bill feels libraries are “screwed” unless there’s a change in the law. It doesn’t help that libraries aren’t accustomed to trying to operate like businesses.
- First-sale doctrine — ReDigi is a great example of a company that’s pushing the envelope on sale vs. licensing of content. Bill feels it’s unlikely ReDigi will prevail in the current litigation to resell digital music. (See related TOC article here.)
- Piracy — Bill points out that obscurity is indeed a bigger problem than piracy…until you become famous. He asserts that Lady Gaga doesn’t benefit from piracy but I’m not sure I agree. After all, maybe future paying Gaga fans start off pirating a song or two before they get hooked.
Authentication and revenue are two reasons why the ReDigi model will work
In an earlier post I mentioned my plans to speak with ReDigi, the company making waves by helping consumers resell their digital music. One day consumers will also be able to resell their ebooks via ReDigi and that has some publishers concerned. What’s a “used ebook” anyway and should consumers be allowed to resell them? I felt the answer to the last part of that question was “yes” before I spoke with ReDigi founder John Ossenmacher but our conversation convinced me even more that reselling ebooks will be a good thing for everyone. Read more…