Complicated legal systems and copyright laws put aside, on a basic level it makes sense to think that if you were to purchase an item, it would be yours to do as you see fit which includes reselling it, right? That’s pretty much how websites such as eBay and Craigslist work where people put up second hand (and brand new) items for sale. However when it comes to digital goods, that’s when things start to get a bit complicated and a US court is set to hear a case which will determine whether digital media files can be resold which could also set a precedent for future cases.
Basically company ReDigi is fighting record label, EMI, on whether digital media files can be resold. Given that reselling of digital music files is ReDigi’s core business competency, we can see why they’re fighting to keep themselves up and running. The company launched back in October 2011 and considered themselves the first legal online market place where users could buy and sell second hand digital material. However EMI sued them claiming that digital content is not the same as physical books or CDs and thus the “first sale doctrine” does not apply. They also argued that there’s no way to ensure that the user deletes the original file after the sale.
It seems that prior to ReDigi launching, the company met with EMI although the music label claims that they did not provide any approval of ReDigi’s concept. EMI is currently asking for damages in the sum of $150,000 for every song sold from the EMI catalogue since ReDigi’s launch, and while the amount will most definitely end up in the millions, the precedent it sets might have a larger impact as it could determine in future cases on how digital content is handled with regards to ownership. Either way it will be interesting to see how this one plays out, so stay tuned for more updates in the future!