Is It Legal To Sell Your Old MP3s?

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sara_125 Sara Gibbons
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Lets say that you’re a contributing member of the music society and buy all your music on iTunes. Is it legal for you to go and sell that mp3?

A similar question was brought to the Supreme Court this week regarding a student who had his friends and family purchase textbooks in Thailand which he later re-sold in the U.S. online. The ruling brought the attention to something called the “first sale” law, which states that, if you buy something that’s copyrighted, you’re allowed to “sell or otherwise dispose” of it without the permission of the copyright owner.

The ruling was in favor of the student, but Jason Schultz, a law professor at UC Berkeley, believes it will have important implications for interpreting “first sale” doctrine in the digital world.

Which brings back our question about selling MP3s.

ReDigi is a digital company that’s basically a virtual used record store. You can sell them your old mp3s, and you can also buy “used” mp3s. ReDigi is being sued for copyright infringement.

ReDigi defends that what it’s doing is perfectly legal according to the “first sale” doctrine.The company argues that when you purchase an mp3 you should be able to sell them just like you could a physical CD.

The Supreme Court ruling on the textbook case only covers physical copies of copyrighted works. The implications for digital resale are unclear, but Schultz says the ruling could assist in a positive push for the judge in the ReDigi case.

Both Apple and Amazon have taken an interest and are seeking patents which would allow users to resell digital content such as e-books, music and movies. In both cases, the seller would lose access to the file after the purchase.


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