Originally published: November 16, 2011
Last updated: December 21, 2011 - 10:03am
A big battle is brewing over whether or how the "first sale" doctrine in copyright law applies to digital music and movie files.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent a cease-and-desist letter to ReDigi, an upstart company that lets users buy and sell "used" digital music. Second-hand record stores have been around for long time, permissible because copyright law permits a purchaser of copyrighted material to transfer title to another buyer. In the digital context, however, there's widespread debate about whether buying digital music constitutes a license or a sale, and what happens when music gets transferred, but ReDigi sniffs an opportunity. If blessed by courts, the enterprising outfit may have stumbled upon a game-changing business. The RIAA isn't happy about this. In a cease-and-desist letter sent on November 10, the trade organization says ReDigi has made "unauthorized use" of sound recordings.
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