Will Reselling Used Digital Songs Become a New Model for Other Media?

  • ReDigi is rebranding the terms “used” and “recycled” to apply to digital media, a concept that copyright owners are having a hard time accepting.
  • The online marketplace enables people to resell music files they’ve bought and it hopes to expand into e-books and games in the future.
  • “A user downloads its software to determine which of his or her music files are eligible for resale,” explains Technology Review. “The company uses digital forensic analysis to verify that the person legally owns a file (rather than having ripped it from a CD or pirated it online): its ‘verification engine’ looks at data associated with the file to determine what its original source is, who acquired it and when, and whether it has been moved from other computers.”
  • “The company then deletes all copies from the person’s synched devices while transferring the original to its own cloud servers,” notes the article.
  • But the Recording Industry Association of America has sent the company a cease-and-desist order and now EMI’s Capitol Records is suing ReDigi for copyright infringement.
  • The case will be determined by one essential aspect of copyright law and ownership: the copy. If ReDigi is copying a song to its cloud services, it could stand to lose big in the lawsuit.
  • However, the company has “adopted methods originally developed in the banking industry to ensure that a digital song or book, just like digital money, is never in two places at once. Once someone else buys a user’s file, ReDigi transfers the license and deletes it from its servers,” the article explains. “The technology can’t, however, ensure that someone hasn’t previously stored a copy elsewhere.”
  • Digital-copyright expert Jason Schultz believes ReDigi has a fair chance of winning this unprecedented case, which he says strikes “at the heart of the future business models of creative industries.”