MP3’s Cannot Be Resold – Is that A Good Thing?

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Geek Smack! episode 257 Tech News:

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Aereo Wins
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iHeartRadio Lollapalooza Channel
The Lollapalooza channel features the Cure, and Sons, the Lumineers and more
MP3 Cannot Be Resold
Courts rules that digital music cannot be resold and website ReDigi is in violation  

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Amazon Saving Post Office
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Kindle Fire with 2 year contract coming April 5th
Apple Missed it
No Product releases in March. Is that for Apple?
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How a man got his life back by a simple printed cover for his face –

Geek Smack: MP3’s Cannot Be Resold

I see a MP3 as a copy of an original – similar to a photocopy or a reproduction. I also see it like the “Not for Resale” item you might get at the store. You know the label that tells you if you bought this then you should call and report the establishment that sold it to you.

You can buy a reprint of a Van Gough or other artwork legally, you are still buying a tangible and possibly licensed item. MP3’s are not that.

ReDigi is a company that started reselling digital copies of music for .49 cents a song. They structured their business on the “First Sale Doctrine”. This basically said once you buy an item you can resell it without the creator’s permission or any royalties to the creator.

So the question is: Even if a MP3 contains a DRM tag to it, is the MP3 resellable?

We have seen this in computer software. Courts ruled toward the resell of software and their adjoining license – which was the caveat around the First Sale Doctrine (that is you could sell the software but couldn’t sell the license).

With MP3’s we can still crack and remove any DRM attached to it. Can we add it, too? Well, just like with any software, there can be holes that allow people to do that.

While not to many people are putting DRM on their MP3’s, if they knew they could sell 100 copies of that same song and make $4.90 for it, they will try.

If you sold your iPod for the price of the iPod loaded with MP3 files on eBay, your listing will get taken down. If you sell your iPod (only promoting the iPod) and it happens to come with your music library – that is considered a Quality control issue. Besides, once the new user pairs it with their iTunes the iPod gets wiped. So it only goes to say the user doesn’t pair it and they might have just bought a music player with hundreds of songs they didn’t buy.

How can we get to a level where we can sell digital music? First, the artist or “Label” would have a legal statement saying you are allowed to resell without consequence. Second, a music selling site that has in its policy that resale of music is possible. Finally, any music that has no licensing or copyright to it – because even royalty free music has a copyright with a “no resale” caveat.

Even the MP3 files of Geekazine come with a Creative Commons license where you cannot resell my podcasts.

Bottom line – Buy your music legally. Give the artist their fair due if you like their music.


Geek Smack! is a weekly video show and podcast that comes out every Tuesday evening. Your host: Jeffrey Powers – talks tech news, IT news and geek news for the week. Geek Smack! is ©2012 under a Creative Commons no-deriv license. Never take candy from strangers. If you would like more information about what is technology, recent news, Geekazine, and Jeffrey Powers, feel free to contact him. Jeffrey Powers does interviews, just ask!

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