Capitol Records failed to halt the operations of ReDigi, a service which sells "used" digital music, in advance of their looming legal battle. And even if you've never heard of ReDigi, this case holds important consequences for digital media of all kinds.
ReDigi bills itself as an "online marketplace for pre-owned digital music," which predictably makes record execs quake with fury. The service allows you to store your "verified" music in the cloud, sell the music you don't listen to for $0.32 a track, and buy used tracks for as little as $0.59 a track. They've been served with a cease and desist by the RIAA previously, but last month, EMI/Capitol filed a lawsuit against ReDigi. The label claimed that it is impossible to sell used digital music files without copying them and that there is no way to prove for sure that the originals have been deleted. EMI/Capitol also asked for an injunction against ReDigi's operations in advance of the court case. That request was denied.
ReDigi claims it uses patent-pending technologies powering a "highly-sophisticated Verification Engine," which ensures that all of the music uploaded to its cloud was purchased online using a legitimate service, that the person uploading it is the original purchaser, and that this person doesn't keep files after they've been uploaded. The Hollywood Reporter succinctly sums up what's at stake in this case:
Among the issues that could be touched upon in the forthcoming case is the meaning of a "copy" for copyright purposes, whether the first sale doctrine applies in the digital context, whether there's "public" performance in transmission of copies, and the ongoing liability for service providers who allow users to do things like move files around in digital clouds and re-sell them to others.
Impressive as ReDigi's verification system sounds, we're rather skeptical. We haven't tried to break the system (yet), but It seems like a Quixotic quest. What if someone made a copy of the files to CD or to a hard drive that doesn't sync with the computer connecting to ReDigi? You can't delete a CD. Unless the files are all DRM-protected—most aren't these days—it would be impossible for ReDigi to be entirely sure that the files are totally gone or unusable. We're looking forward to seeing how and if ReDigi can prove us wrong. [Hollywood Reporter]
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