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As Expected, RIAA Threatens Site That Claims To Let You Sell Used MP3s

from the dumb-in-almost-every-direction dept

Earlier this year, we wrote yet another attempt (and there have been a few) to set up a system for "selling used mp3s." It seems like a pretty pointless idea for a few reasons. First, why bother? Second, all the convoluted and annoying systems the company puts in place to try to make this "legal" just makes it annoying and useless. But, third, as we noted at the time, there was no way that the RIAA would let this happen.

And, indeed, the RIAA is now demanding that ReDigi stop allowing for the sale of used mp3s. I'm having trouble thinking which is the dumber idea: trying to set up a convoluted and useless marketplace for selling "used" MP3s (something almost no one will want to do), or the RIAA even bothering to call extra attention to ReDigi by threatening and potentially suing.

A tip to the RIAA: this was dumb. Almost no one cares about or was using ReDigi anyway. It would have just faded away. By threatening, you bring them back into the limelight. On top of that, you (yet again) make yourselves look like clueless luddites who wish to wipe out the First Sale doctrine. Even worse, you could end up in a lawsuit that reminds you that the First Sale doctrine does exist, and is recognized by the courts, and you could establish a precedent that "reselling" used digital content is legal. So why bother, other than this bizarre and shortsighted infatuation with the idea that if anyone, anywhere benefits without you getting a slice, it must be illegal?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Moreover, for most digital content, there's a ToS issue, in that most of them state that you're not permitted to give your personal info away freely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    hope they do a Righthaven and not only lose badly but get scolded by the courts!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Dr Evil, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    royalties to the masses....

    YUUUUP!

    wait, if we get behind this company to get a nice protracted lawsuit going, at some point the RIAA will have to admit that the original file is a license, not a copy of the song subject to first sale doctrine, forever indebting the labels to paying royalties on the licenses.

    thanks RIAA for bringing this to our attention. :-)
    Glad, as you said, that you were not afraid of this one.

    nuf said..

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Apples and Oranges

    Digital content isn't a physical product that can be resold but simply a license. Except for the purposes of infringement, then it's exactly like a physical product and copying it is stealing. Understand?

     

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  5.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Blue knows. He/she is a master in understanding all piracy issues.

    Go Blue!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: Apples and Oranges

    Just like a car!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Actually, this is one of those deals Mike where you have painted yourself into a corner, and you can't easily get out.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111104/04202416631/fight-power-chuck-d-sues-universal-mus ic-hundreds-millions-unpaid-royalties.shtml

    You stand in support of Chuck D here... that online sales are a license, not a "sale". In doing so, you are accepting that the sales are licenses and not physical product, and are restricted by those licenses. Simply put, if this is true, then there is no simple right of resale granted, and no first sale doctrine in play.

    Beyond that, the sale of "used" MP3s is clearly filled with risks of piracy - from the user "keeping a copy" of the material, to people selling what they didn't have the rights for to begin with. This is the sort of site that you turn individual piracy into a paying concept, and you know there would be any number of people lining up to scam the system with pirated material.

    There is really no way for this one to work out and be legal, I feel for them in that they have a potentially good business model in theory, but the reality of contract law, licensing, and the potential abuses all come together to form an unsustainable business model.

     

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  8.  
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    Dave (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Re: royalties to the masses....

    Exactly. Chuck D should be following this lawsuit closely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Re:

    If anyone painted themselves into a corner it is the RIAA. Their the ones who want digital downloads to count as copies in some situations and licenses in another. Now that is coming back to bite them. Mike just points out how the RIAA is trying to all they can to make more money for themselves and give less back to artists.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Re:

    OMG, you are right. You totally aren't transparently conflating two separate issues, in clear attempt to maintain your talking points.

    Mike is wrong, has been proving inexorably wrong, and you now own the internets. Checkmate, well played, sir/madam/goat.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    That's right, it's Mike who's confused the issue here.
    Not the labels, paying the artist as if it's a physical sale but telling the consumer they are only purchasing a licence.

    Mike hasn't said it's one or the other, he's just said the labels can't have it both ways, a sale when the laws for sales count but licences when the laws for licences best suit not the consumer, not the artists but the labels.

     

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  12.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    There is really no way for this one to work out and be legal

    unless they of course use the RIAAs own words and royalty payments as a defense, and the court rules in that manner.

    sale of "used" MP3s is clearly filled with risks of piracy - from the user "keeping a copy" of the material, to people selling what they didn't have the rights for to begin with.

    oh no mp3s have the same limitation art and books have had since.....ever, even before they were magically digitized.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re:

    Note to self; I should stop posting without understanding what I just read.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:36am

    Re: What Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:05am said plus:

    HOW would there be any assurance (without intrusive audits) that ReDigi isn't selling the same files over and over?

    This can't be permitted.

    But kudos to Mike for once pointing out that this attempt to get around copyright is just plain silly.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re:

    Beyond that, the sale of "used" MP3s is clearly filled with risks of piracy - from the user "keeping a copy" of the material, to people selling what they didn't have the rights for to begin with.

    And yet the resale of physical CDs is permitted despite the risk of the previous owner "keeping a copy" by ripping it before reselling it...

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re:

    But to the pirates, the RIAA is "evil", so Masnick has to rail on them.

    Don't you understand how things work around here?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    The default in an MP3 upload is to "keep a copy", and that "copy" could be sold over and over again.

    The CD? Well, if you sell the original, you no longer have the case, the art work, or the original printed CD - it would be incredibly hard to sell that on.

    The difference is obvious, even to Mike.

     

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  18.  
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    alex (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    I think that if mp3s had a resale value more people would be encouraged to buy them. Buying a CD, listening to it 10 times, then selling it is perfectly acceptable, but not so with mp3s... Our digital collections have no resale value at all.

    I wrote some thoughts about this very thing here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    hothmonster, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: What Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:05am said plus:

    ootb I saw this article and thought of you, with your constant reference to the fact that youtube is stupid because no one wants to watch anyones caat videos.

    http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2011/11/catvertising-is-the-future-of-advertising/

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re:

    The RIAA isn't evil to pirates or anyone else, what it is, is stupid, destructive, short sighted, ignorant and damaging.
    The things it lobbies for are primarily damaging to the large business interests it represents, but unfortunately also to everybody else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Loki, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    You stand in support of Chuck D here... that online sales are a license, not a "sale". In doing so, you are accepting that the sales are licenses and not physical product, and are restricted by those licenses.

    That is not quite accurate. Mike stands in support that IF, as the labels want to claim, digital sales are indeed licenses and not sales, THEN, in fact Chuck (and a lot of other artists) are indeed owed a lot of money.

    It is the IF, THEN concept Mike (as well as a lot of us) supports.

    You can't claim something (like a digital good) is one thing (like a license) when it is to your financial benefit and not that thing (no it's a sale) when it is to your financial disadvantage.

    If it is a license you except ALL of the advantages AND disadvantages that come along with it.

    If it is a sale you except ALL of the advantages AND disadvantages that come along with it.

    That being said, I also don't hold with the argument that selling a "used" MP3 is no different than selling a CD. Even if I buy a CD, rip it, and resell it, I can only sell it once. True, multiple people can buy, rip, sell the CD, but each individual can only do so once, and thereby only "profit" from it one time. It would be a whole lot easier to find ways to sell the same "used" MP3 over and over again, thereby making the potential for abuse that much greater.

     

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  22.  
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    Old Fool (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    I would never buy a used MP3, it may be scratched!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    AJ (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    pffft. I can by blank cases by the truckload, and any color copier can take care of the artwork.... nice try!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    AJ (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    ...whoops forgot to mention the printed on cd.... plenty of good label makers out there...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yup, and if you are willing to go to that extreme, you aren't just a pirate, you are a commercial copyright violator. Hopefully Bubba doesn't like little twinks like you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

    Loki, the point is "if then" it is a license, then it cannot be resold in the same manner as physical product. So the site mentioned here is effectively a pirate site, so why should make show any mercy for it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    gorehound (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    The best thing to do is do yourself a favor and do not ever buy one of these stupid digital files.For one thing if you buy a used physical CD the RIAA will get no money and for another if you do that you can rip it any way you want to.
    And eventually the CD you own will be OOP and may climb in value as a collectable.
    I refuse to give the RIAA or MPAA even a dime of my money ever for the rest of my life.
    Take your SOPA and shove it up yer ass I say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    6, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Sue the folks for false advertising is the issue. They advertise that you can buy the track/album and then try to say they licensed it to you.

    Take them to court for false marketing is the answer. 500$ statutory damages are available for each instance in VA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Someantimalwareguy (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: What Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 9:05am said plus:

    IIIRC, ReDigi watermarks the files provided for resale which would seem to have a greater assurance of preventing this type of abuse than is present in the buy physical CD > use > resale model we have now where each purchaser of said media can simply rip the contents and then sell the CD on to the next guy who then repeats the process...ad nausea.

    One thing is certain however, the nature of what consumers are purchasing (license or copy sale) is going to be key in this debate. Both have implications, but the market will not stand for letting this distinction remain undefined for much longer. Either the industry settles on the definition or the courts will. My strong recommendation would be for the Industry to take the path of least cost and take their chances going forward...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    You wouldn't license a car!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Jay (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That entire post went right over your head...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    Its called a lease

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    You wouldn't download a lease!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    First Sale doesn't apply to licenses, only "albums". But as another story has noted, the labels owe five times to royalties for licensed music as they do for music albums.

    So they tell the public they're selling licenses, and tell the people they owe money to they're selling albums. The two statements cannot be true at the same time.

    They accuse the public of stealing from them by illicitly copying (despite the fact nothing was actually taken from their possession), all the while they actually have been stealing 80 cents out of every dollar they owed in royalties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: Apples and Oranges

    Yup. A digital license is not subject to First Sale doctrine. But the labels have been stealing royalties, to the tune of 80 cents out of every dollar owed, from their own artists. Because they owe more royalties if they sell a license rather than an album, but they've been describing their sales as albums to the artists and licenses to their customers. A single sale cannot be both at the same time.

    And they call the general PUBLIC thieves?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    IanM (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    um, no but nice try

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    hothmonster, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and that really surprised me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Simple: Because the labels reported it as an album sale, both to the artist(s) in question and on their taxes. This allowed them to keep 80 cents out of every dollar owed in royalties, as well as pay lower taxes on the sale.

    You're right, a license that forbids resale cannot be resold. But did they really sell a license, thereby committing both criminal fraud and tax evasion? Or did they actually sell an album, which is subject to First Sale? I bet most courts would agree that they sold an album, no matter what they told the customer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    hothmonster, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Apples and Oranges

    I like this game

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    Except that they didn't claim anything of the sort.

    They're claiming to be reselling goods under the First Sale doctrine, not selling licenses.

    If the labels are right, and the music is indeed licensed, the labels will immediately be under grand jury investigation for tax fraud. Because they've been reporting album sales on the back end, while insisting to customers that they bought a license, not an album.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    hothmonster, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    oh oh oh I'll take criminal fraud and tax evasion, please please please

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Ben (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Totally agree!

    -1 for except = accept

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    you aren't just a pirate, you are a commercial copyright violator.

    And here, all along, I thought that a pirate was a commercial copyright violator. After all, piracy, in the traditional sense when it comes to copyright infringement, has always been the manufacture and sale of copyrighted material.

    Theft has usually been incorrectly used to define someone who infringes on a personal, non-commercial scale. But then again, the industry really treats all infringement, whether commercial or otherwise as the same thing. After all, in their eyes, anyone who doesn't work for big content is a thief and pirate, regardless to whether that individual actually is involved in copyright infringement, commercial or otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    Psyga Sanichigo (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    And then go bankrupt!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're a little Twinkie?

    OMNOMNOM

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'll take "A Miserable Pile of Secrets" for 500, Alex.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Re:

    but will anyone listen after that weird guy sings the we just got a letter song?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    6, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 8:33pm

    "If the labels are right, and the music is indeed licensed,"

    If the labels are right, and the music is indeed licensed, then keep a copy of the ADVERTISEMENT that drew your eye to the purchase. IF THE ADVERTISEMENT SAYS "buy" rather than "license" then file a false marketing/advertising suit. 500$ statutory fines are available per infraction.

    I'm not saying that this instant case is about false marketing, I'm saying, file your own suit against them for false marketing if you find them engaging in it. If they are advertising a license, then either license it or don't, your choice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    However,

    This could be just the tip of the iceberg. Thereare plenty of initiatives in the air that are pushing to stop the secondhand sales of all copyrighted and licensable works, including cds, albums, books and movies and all secondhand sales will have to be accountable for tax purposes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2011 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Except that they didn't claim anything of the sort.

    Does the phrase "own it today" ring a bell?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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