Judge rules ReDigi music resale service infringes copyright

The Judge ruled that it was illegal to resell a pre-owned music file unless sold with the device onto which it was downloaded

Selling a pre-owned digital music file is quite different from selling an old CD in the physical world, and may infringe copyright, a court in New York has ruled.

The court questioned a defense under the first sale doctrine in situations where a copy of the digital file is made when making a transfer. The first sale doctrine is the law that protects an user's ability in most cases to lend, sell, or give away copies of books, music and other copyrighted works without requiring the permission of the copyright owner.

The fact that a file has moved from one material object -- the user's computer -- to another -- the ReDigi server -- means that a reproduction has occurred, Judge Richard Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in his order.

"Similarly, when a ReDigi user downloads a new purchase from the ReDigi website to her computer, yet another reproduction is created. It is beside the point that the original phonorecord no longer exists. It matters only that a new phonorecord has been created," he added.

Capitol Records filed a complaint against ReDigi in January last year, alleging multiple copyright violations. The judge said in his ruling that sales through ReDigi's website infringe Capitol's exclusive rights to the reproduction and distribution of its content.

ReDigi, which runs an online marketplace for reselling pre-owned digital media, claimed to have in place technology that ensures that the music being resold has been bought legally, and also that the file has been deleted from the seller's device.

The file is not deleted automatically or involuntarily, though ReDigi's policy is to suspend the accounts of users who refuse to comply, the judge noted.

The judge also dismissed a defense under the first sale doctrine, and said the first sale defense is limited to material items, like records.

The first sale defense would, for example, cover the owner's sale of a particular "phonorecord," be it a computer hard disk, iPod, or other memory device onto which the file was originally downloaded, the judge said.

"Here, ReDigi is not distributing such material items; rather, it is distributing reproductions of the copyrighted code embedded in new material objects, namely, the ReDigi server in Arizona and its users' hard drives," he wrote.

Electronic Frontier Foundation described the ruling as a blow to the future of the first sale doctrine. "What is particularly frustrating is that the court reached that decision despite the fact that ReDigi went out of its way to prevent actual harm to any copyright owner," the online rights group added.

ReDigi also said it was disappointed with the decision but pointed out that the ruling only affected ReDigi 1.0, its original beta launch technology, which has been superseded by ReDigi 2.0 that the court stated was not affected by its ruling. The judge said that ReDigi 2.0 was not considered in the action as it was launched after the Capitol complaint and days before the close of discovery.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags copyrightinternetlegalintellectual propertyentertainmentInternet-based applications and servicesMusic and audioReDigiCapitol

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?