A Market For Used MP3s… Or A Parody To Prove A Point?

from the this-can't-be-serious dept

ChurchHatesTucker was the first of a few readers to send in the news about a new website claiming to have set up an online system for selling “used” or secondhand MP3s. The whole idea, of course, is fairly ridiculous, which leads me (and CHT) to believe that this is more making a statement to show just how silly it is whenever recording industry types try to treat digital copies as if they were physical objects, or declare that “downloading an MP3 is no different than walking out of a shop with a CD you haven’t paid for.” If so, bravo for the satire. If, however, this actually is real, I imagine it will survive all of about a day, before it gets shut down.

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Comments on “A Market For Used MP3s… Or A Parody To Prove A Point?”

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alex says:

if i pay money in exchange for a good, i own that good, correct? even if i’m buing copyrighted material like a CD or DVD, i own that physical object, its mine to do what i want with.

but if i buy an MP3, i don’t own it? i can’t resell it? you can argue because i’m buying an infinite good that i don’t ‘own’ it. so really theyre trying to say i’ve rented it.

but what if i buy a CD, rip it to itunes, and then resell the CD? i still have most of what i paid for, but i sold the CD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think ‘everyone’ here would agree that you have every right to resell your mp3. It just… seems a little foolish for the other guy to buy it, don’t you think? In any case, reselling an mp3 doesn’t have the same dynamics as reselling a CD, which is why Mike and CHT think this is a farce to get a point across.

Anonymous Coward says:

This gimmick creates quite a legal quandary. The first sale doctrine means I can sell an mp3 I legitimately purchased. It’s my property so I can do with it as I please so long as I don’t retain a copy. The RIAA would be hard pressed to prove the seller doesn’t have legal possession.

So here’s what I think everyone should do. First purchase some tracks from Amazon for $.89 – Some really obscure crappy ones you don’t even like. Next, post them for sale for $9.99. [Make sure you delete your copy from your devices if anyone actually purchases the track.] Sit back and watch the RIAA go nuts.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ll purchase as many of your obscure tracks as you purchase of mine. That way we don’t even have to write any checks, but we can share our files and delete the ones the other bought after being transferred. Then the RIAA can whine some more about how they need a cut of 2nd hand sales and we can all point and laugh at them for being idiots.

PixelPusher220 says:

Re: Re:

That raises a very interesting point. If I purchase a song through iTunes and then use iTunes to record it to CD and re-rip it as an mp3. Have I done anything illegal? (Since the RIAA has licensed Apple and iTunes to sell their music they would seem to have at least implicitly agreed to *all* of the functionality within iTunes.)

And using your suggestion, then putting said mp3 up for (re)sale, it’s a seemingly ironclad way to put DRM-free mp3’s into legal distribution channels. Of course you probably have to notify iTunes somehow that you no longer own a license for the song in question.

I do wish I could watch the smoke coming out of RIAA’s ears trying to figure out how to squelch it.

PixelPusher220 says:

Re: Can I sell my unwanted tracks from a CD?

Doubtful, you purchased the ‘CD’ which is a physical manifestation of the product, so you purchased a single entity. If you had only purchased the album via individual songs, then yes you could do that.

Think of bulk candy buying: if you buy a bag of KitKat’s, you’ll notice they are labeled ‘not for individual sale’ so you can’t buy the bag and then sell some of them individually.

My guess is the same concept applies when purchasing an entire album vs as individual songs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Can I sell my unwanted tracks from a CD?

“Think of bulk candy buying: if you buy a bag of KitKat’s, you’ll notice they are labeled ‘not for individual sale’ so you can’t buy the bag and then sell some of them individually.”

this may work for Candy, but I beg to differ when replacing the “KitKats” in your analogy with a 6-Pack of beers… which CAN BE sold separately – and often times, are.

Freedom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Can I sell my unwanted tracks from a CD?

If I buy an MP3 album and only want a couple songs, I should be able to sell the other MP3 songs individually.

As for the candy analogy, just because the manufacturer says you can’t doesn’t mean that it is a legal requirement. Only a statement by them that may or may not be legally enforceable – last I checked, unless you contract with them and limit your rights, once a good is bought it is yours to re-sell as you see fit.

I love the idea of re-selling MP3s. This could literally be the idea of the year that finally gets everyone to wrap their head around this issue. Good times!


pegr says:

Re: Re: Can I sell my unwanted tracks from a CD?

“Think of bulk candy buying: if you buy a bag of KitKat’s, you’ll notice they are labeled ‘not for individual sale’ so you can’t buy the bag and then sell some of them individually”

So does all writing on candy bar wrappers have the force of law? Who is the lawful authority in this case, Willy Wonka?

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Can I sell my unwanted tracks from a CD?

That would probably be the FDA or whatever agency governs how food products must be labeled. The only thing stopping them from selling the little candy bars individually is that they are not labeled according to food packaging rules. If they were (and it’s unlikely you could get everything you needed printed on such a small wrapper) then they could be sold. It has nothing to do with the manufacturer, AFAIK.

JB says:

Re: Now That's Entertainment

This will be entertaining.
Get some popcorn, a drink and pull up a barcalounger.
Will it be a DMCA, C&D, or a threat letter.
Anyone got a pool going ?

Aren’t those one and the same when coming from the RIAA? I’m for the simplistic threat letter since there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of legal grounds for a DMCA or C&D.
Definitely, this is going to be entertainment!

Anonymous Coward says:


Their career blog suggests it might not be a parody.

From their FAQ section:

Q. What is bopaboo?
bopaboo is an online marketplace that allows you to legally transfer and resale digital music. Unlike, peer-to-peer file networks – bopaboo never creates duplicates of your music.

Q. Can I download another copy of my MP3 files after the initial purchase?
Your purchases on bopaboo are always stored in your bopaBox until you delete them.

So does bopaboo create copies??

Anonymous Coward says:

KitKats analogy

I was under the impression that the KitKats said that they were not labeled for individual sale, meaning that they do not have the nutrition information that is required on every unit. That means the labeling requirements are not up to par for our country’s requirements to sell them. I believe you would run into trouble with a group like the FDA for improper labeling, not for selling individually.

Nonprofits frequently buy large packages of candy and sell them separately for fundraisers. This does not seem to be illegal, so I would presume that the same thing would be true of individually selling songs you’ve purchased. You’d still have to make sure you paid taxes, though.

PRMan (profile) says:

Non-profits and candy

That’s exactly it. They are not labeled with required allergen information, so they cannot be sold separately by a corporation. Of course, the companies do this on purpose to make more money.

If you want to sell Kit Kats separately, simply make a copy of the Nutrition Facts and the Ingredients and tape a copy on each bar. Problem solved.

You’ll notice that at some stores some off-brand company is selling Smarties or Pixy Sticks in a weird, circus-colored bag. In fact, I have even seen mini-Kit Kats with the warning on them in one of these bags. Because they copy the ingredients, they are fine.

Chris says:

How about this.

Ive put this idea on the internet before, but figured it was relevant to the conversation at hand.

A service similar to itunes except that you trade songs with friends. So your library is essentially the collective library of all your friends on the service (my own thought is that anybody using the service is an implied friend ala I said hi on the message board, everybody knows me). One copy of the song can be kept, or the service could keep all the files centrally. As long as no more people are listening to a song at a given moment than there are legally held copies the system should be legal. If you want to change sharing to reselling music for a cent whatever, nominal fee for infinite music.

Theoretically this model could be extended to any type of file. You could also restrict things if you would like to require a checkout process for borrowing a user’s file, such that they could reserve or hold a movie or song for a specific time.

Is there anything illegal there?

Jenny says:

Jointly owned by online music and movie club?

Why wouldn’t it be legal for an online club to put music, ebooks, and movies owned jointly by its members online for member use? Just because membership may extend to a large number and the club has dues and takes donations does not mean that the members of the club are not entitled to use club property. If they just kept one legal copy on a club server, I would think it should be OK, even if member access the server over the Internet. Dues and donations would seem fair, and if members illegally download copies I am sure that would be against the TOS so the club should be no more responsible than Google. Following that logic, if another server streams it’s legal acquired copy from it’s server for free to anyone who uses their site, it should be legal as long as no extra copies are made and sold. Someone bought it, and sometimes the Internet is like a library. If people like it, they can buy their own legal copy. Simply seeing or hearing a copy someone legally bought should not be illegal, even if the Internet is involved.

Mark Regan (user link) says:

What about stores selling and renting used DVDs and CDs?

Since the music industry and film industry does not pursue the retail stores in the BUSINESS of selling and renting USED CDs and DVDs, because they are TOO BUSY suing college students who downloaded a few tunes to study by on grandpas computer (oops, they sued grandpa by mistake), then how can they justify telling us we cannot sell our mp3 players which happen to have music we legally downloaded from iTunes on it?

I call that a “value added” mp3 player, because the purchaser doesn’t have to go through all the crap necessary to buy music online. FREE is EASY. Purchasing is complex. So, I’ll just SELL my mp3 player, thank you. And if Apple or MCI sues me, I’ll file bankruptcy. Let them go after the commercial enterprises and leave us FANS and MUSIC LOVERS alone.

Chortle says:


With many popular things like Old Time Radio in public domain he could sell the file, although you could get most of them for free legally through podcasts.
Is every Mp3 file after the one recorded of converted a used file just as when you drive you new car off the lot?
StopWhining has a point and it is why I buy books and CDs from people who use Creative Commons License because they will use the money to create more art rather than to sue someone’s grandma.

Jesse says:

In Canada, it gets even crazier, because we have that blank media levy. The copyright board says you can one person can copy another persons music onto blank media (so that both people have a copy, even though one person paid for the original) because you paid the levy on the blank media. But, I mean, if you copy a CD, it implies that it is okay to be on a computer first right. And ripping for personal use is okay, so you can transfer music to your computer.

But what if you add the step of transfering over the internet? So instead of physcially going to my friends house, I transfer it over the internet. As long as it ends up on a CD/DVD, it’s okay right? Plus what if you transfer to mp3 first, then you can put lots of music onto one CD (even more on a DVD), way more than a store bought CD.

Does this apply to only music? What about software, movies etc?

Mike, I would really like if you did a piece on the levy in Canada, and explore these possibilities. Is file sharing legal in Canada now?

Twinrova says:

This could have HUGE impacts down the road (for the better).

“If, however, this actually is real, I imagine it will survive all of about a day, before it gets shut down.”
I’d be interested to see how the site could be shut down. In theory, it can be quite legit.

If we can take our used CDs in for resale, why not our MP3? There’s no guarantee we didn’t make a copy of the CD before reselling, so there’s no issue on the MP3 as well (assuming users deleted the song from their library).

I would LOVE to see the music industry try and sue this site for any copyright violation. If the site takes down the MP3 after the first sale, they’d be set to take on the challenge since it would be NO different than the CD itself.

joe says:

good idea if...

This would be a good idea IF they would raise the quality of the files. I am all for purchasing music, but the current state of the files are NOT on par with the same sound coming off a cd. So I have yet to venture into the mp3 realm (well I did at first back in the late 90s when it was just becoming a standard and for the “cool effect”) just to hear a few songs but ever since they are a commodity I have gotten away from them.
I would love to be able to buy cheaply songs online that are quality and to resell them when I want along with the DRM rights. Until they raise the standards of audio quality though I won’t be buying, or, obviously selling any.

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