Japan To Ban Sale Of Second Hand Electronics?

from the the-world-goes-more-digital-every-day dept

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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Comments on “Japan To Ban Sale Of Second Hand Electronics?”

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12 Comments
Dima says:

possibly...or an alternative thought

Hrm… this could be IP or could be less about right of first sale and more about environmental and safety concerns. As Engadget points out, the law concerns those parts that are not compliant with current safety laws.

Another view:
Take cars: In the developed Asian world there are often laws on the maximum age of a vehicle (5 years.) This means that as soon as you have new smog or fuel efficiency standards you are can guarantee that close to 100% of the vehicles are compliant. While it should be noted that these “old” cars are then sold off to the developing nations where they can cause further environmental damage, your town’s air is cleaner.
Why not apply the same rule to electronics? Non energy efficient computers – tossed out. Old parts with mercury or other haz materials – recycled in a 5 year span.
While electronics do not have registration requirements (therefore making it more difficult to enforce) one can control their numbers through resale.

Brad says:

Re: possibly...or an alternative thought

That’s just idiotic. Forcing people to replace every electronics component they own every five years REEKS of “I have too much money for my own good.”

Not everyone can AFFOARD to replace all of their electronics every 5 years. Further, the amount of waste this would create VASTLY outpaces whatever slight environmental benefit reduced power consumption provides. It also significantly reduces the liklihood that companies will strive to produce quality, long-lasting electronics. A 5-year lifespan may be fine for cell phones or cheap calculators, though I find even those examples dubious.

And lastly, I could find NO “ASIAN” COUNTRY which enforces a mandatory replacement of vehichles after 5 years (let alone “most”). You want to point to a country that, right now, has no vehicles on the road older than 2001, I’d like to see it. I think that’s made up.

fuzzmanmatt (user link) says:

Re: Re: possibly...or an alternative thought

He was saying the resale of vehicles that no longer meet current emissions standards, not the prohibition of their use altogether. The same principle would apply in this situation. So many electronics contain things that can kill you, and as the industry evolves and moves away from things like that, it does make sense that a private seller should be prevented from selling things that a corporate seller can no longer sell.

TechNoFear (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: try singapore, but its 10 years.

>> I could find NO “ASIAN” COUNTRY which enforces a mandatory replacement of vehichles after 5 years (let alone “most”).

Japan requires you have your car ‘inspected’ every three years. This is expensive and time consuming.
You also pay taxes/registration/licence based on the age of the car, as the car becomes older the fees increase dramatically.
Repairs are also incredibly expensive, making replacement cheaper than repairs after even a minor accident.
So it may not be ‘law’ in Japan but is uneconomic not to replace your car after five years (before the six year inspection).

Like trying to repair/upgrade an old PC, it is cheaper and easier to buy a new one….

Dufus says:

No Subject Given

Maybe the time has come to just attach a license to EVERYTHING. Pens, cars, music just plain everything produced or manufactured from today on.

Add an extra 25% to the price for the license, and move on. Prohibit the reselling of anything used, and start tax funded police forces to regulate the use of everything.

Or maybe we could just start giving our paychecks to some governing body, let them deduct what they feel is appropriate, and if there is any money left, dispurse it back to the earner.

fukumimi (user link) says:

Some details regarding this Japanese law

It comes into effect at the beginning of April, but the interested parties are making a fuss now, rather than when the law was being debated or when it was first passed, several years ago (the law provided for a several year period before it took affect).

Additionally, it does not affect the rights of individuals to sell the odd non-certified vintage or secondhand electronic device. (If you do a brisk trade on hundreds of such devices on Yahoo! Japan Auctions or similar (Ebay does not currently have a local Japanese presence), the authorities are likely to deem you to be in the trade, however)

The big group kicking up a fuss are the musicians, who complain (with justification) that this will have the effect of limiting the access to vintage hardware whose performance cannot be replicated with modern devices. But again, why now? Couldn’t they get their act together earlier, and not a couple of months before the law kicks in?

Terrible law to be sure (which affects some niche markets in a big way), but there are product liability implications to be absolutely fair, and consumer protection regarding the sale of second hand goods is in need of some sort of change.

Basically Japan didn’t have much of a 2nd hand market (for commodity type goods – vintage goods are a separate issue) until the decade long depression, and consumer complaints regarding 2nd hand goods merchants is not uncommon.

Carlos M. J. Clavijo Jr. says:

PSE law in Japan

Just about everyone that has seen the japanese government run, has come away with the idea that too many politicians in the japanese government are corrupt and buyable.

This law has nothing to do with security, but with the economics of having companies like Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic make more profits by dictating to the people of japan and on other countries what they can buy and what they can keep for themselves.

These government officials that passed this law along with the major japanese makers that support this law are nothing less than yellow dogs.

This will now make me begin to look forward to other manufacturers who are not tied in to Japanese, and if this is totally impossible, I shall try to find the best way to buy less Japanese products.

As for anyone else out there, STOP BUYING ERICCSON EQUIPMENT AND PHONES. Let Sony feel some of the heat. Buy Nokia, or buy Siemens, or any other phone other than anyone with too much japanese products in them.

We can start with this. Hey Motorola, what do you have to sell. Any other manufacturers out there who are not japanese. Show me what you got! I’m in the market for non-japanese products.

Carlos M. J. Clavijo Jr. says:

PSE law in Japan

Just about everyone that has seen the japanese government run, has come away with the idea that too many politicians in the japanese government are corrupt and buyable.

This law has nothing to do with security, but with the economics of having companies like Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic make more profits by dictating to the people of japan and on other countries what they can buy and what they can keep for themselves.

These government officials that passed this law along with the major japanese makers that support this law are nothing less than yellow dogs.

This will now make me begin to look forward to other manufacturers who are not tied in to Japanese, and if this is totally impossible, I shall try to find the best way to buy less Japanese products.

As for anyone else out there, STOP BUYING ERICCSON EQUIPMENT AND PHONES. Let Sony feel some of the heat. Buy Nokia, or buy Siemens, or any other phone other than anyone with too much japanese products in them.

We can start with this. Hey Motorola, what do you have to sell. Any other manufacturers out there who are not japanese. Show me what you got! I’m in the market for non-japanese products.

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