While intellectual property supporters love to pretend that intellectual property and tangible property are identical, there are, of course, plenty of differences. Among the major ones are the ability to replicate at no marginal cost, the fact that intellectual property protection is for a limited (though, in many cases, growing) time period... and that tangible goods have a right of first sale, that let you resell whatever you've bought. That's simply not true with digital goods -- where the technical limitations placed on the goods usually forbid their resale -- meaning that you never really own those goods, you only rent them. We've noticed in the past few months that there's been a growing attack on the right of first sale, probably because the makers of tangible goods are becoming aware just how good digital goods makers have things. The latest story comes from Japan. The details on this are anything but clear, so it's possible that there's a misreading somewhere, but Digg points us to a story saying that the sale of any second-hand electronics that are more than five years old will soon be illegal in Japan. The shortsighted reasoning is that this cuts out the grey market, forbidding anyone from profiting on a product without the original manufacturer also profiting. This ties back in with the whole jealousy issue, where people have come to the conclusion that if you ever touched something, you deserve to profit from it any time anyone else profits from it. However, this is a shortsighted position because it actively harms the market for your goods. Having an active secondary "used" market increases the value of your products, because the buyers take into account the fact that they can resell it later. Taking that resale value out of the equation can drop how much people are willing to pay for your products by a wide margin. Update: Well, we noted there was little to back this up, and another source is claiming that the original story is misleading. There is still some element of trying to restrict the right of first sale, but it may not be as bad as originally reported.
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