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ReDigi chief to address Congressional committee on First Sale Doctrine

By | Published on Monday 2 June 2014


The founder of the sometimes controversial MP3 resale platform ReDigi will be in Washington later today to give evidence to a congressional committee on intellectual property and the internet.

As previously reported, ReDigi’s business model has come under the spotlight mainly via litigation by the record industry, which is set to test whether customers can actually legally resell MP3s in the same way they can legitimately resell a CD. The labels reckon not, and therefore that ReDigi is helping others to infringe copyright.

While that matter continues to work its way through the courts, the House Of Representatives’ sub-committee on Courts, Intellectual Property And The Internet will today consider the so called ‘First Sale Doctrine’, the specific bit of American law that allows the resale of CDs in the US.

In his presentation, ReDigi’s John Ossenmacher will argue that the content industries have been doing their best to water down the First Sale Doctrine for some time, most recently by exploiting terms and conditions nobody reads to claim that when a customer clicks a ‘buy’ button on a digital content platform, they aren’t actually ‘buying’ anything.

Says Ossenmacher: “Consumers are given the option to ‘buy’ music, movies, and books on their screen and the ‘buy’ button looks identical for digital and physical items alike, but in the largely unintelligible legalese (that no one reads) the rights of ownership are watered down or worse, dissolved all-together for these digital purchases. Content holders are attempting to take away a fundamental consumer choice by styling what they call a long-term lease/license into their less-than forthright marketing strategies”.

For their part, the content industries argue that the First Sale Doctrine can’t apply in the digital domain, certainly where resale occurs over the net, because the transfer of a digital file requires a new copy to be made, something the first sale doctrine was not designed to permit. Though Ossenmacher claims his technology allows file transfer without copying.

You can read the full transcript for the ReDigi chief’s presentation to Congress here.