back to article Music resale service ReDigi loses copyright fight with Capitol Records

A US District Court in New York has ruled that ReDigi, an online marketplace that allows users to sell their purchased music files, violates copyright law. Cambridge, Massachusetts–based ReDigi, which launched its service in October 2011, claimed to be "the world's first, real legal alternative to expensive online music …

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  1. James 139

    How much?

    Good grief, where do they get figures like $150,000 from? for tracks that are worth probably $0.01 each, before the addition of greedy corporate price gouges etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much?

      So who paid the judge....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much?

      It's not what the "tracks are worth". This isn't an exchange of value, it's damages for sales that the copyright holder has lost and punitive damages if appropriate. If you rob a bank and then give the money back, you still go to prison and you are typically held financially responsibile for all costs and damages associated with your crime.

      1. gerryg
        Windows

        ok - I'll bite

        You were doing ok until "If". No bank was robbed, no robbery was committed.

        For the hard of thinking if a consumer buys a CD they can sell it but not it seems, the digital equivalent. (let's leave aside dodgy behaviour, which redigit was claiming to protect against, and no-one seems to be disagreeing with the process).

        Apparently we are living in a world where the consumer is no longer buying stuff but licensing it. And government and legislature are supporting this. Marvellous thing, democracy.

        1. Dr.S

          Re: ok - I'll bite

          The judge should have looked up the Usedsoft ruling from the European Court of Justice, where they allow for copyright in a digital download to be exhausted by the first sale, paving the way for a legal second-hand market for digital copies. The requisite is that the original copy is erased, which is exactly what ReDigi was good for.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: ok - I'll bite

          "Apparently we are living in a world where the consumer is no longer buying stuff but licensing it. And government and legislature are supporting this. Marvellous thing, democracy."

          It's happening everywhere in the electronic world--everyone's going to a service economy where you never BUY anything but just RENT it. OnLive was basically a game rental service, many pieces of commercial software are moving to a subscription model.

          They're just finally applying a basic tenet of economics: there's almost always more money in REPEAT business. And if the only business around is repeat business, you can create a naturally captive market.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O'hoy!

    This is why you pirate! How many times do record labels have to sue in order for people to understand that? The record labels do not want ANY kind of legitimate use, so that only leaves the illegitimate! I gave up blaming the RIAA or whatever storm name they may use. I now blame the dumb people who think they have "Fair Use rights" and continue to pay into their regime. Stink'n land lubbers!

    1. midcapwarrior
      FAIL

      Re: O'hoy!

      What a crock. You pirate because you can. Any excuse will do.

  3. Busby
    Thumb Up

    This could actually be a good thing in the long term. The more it's hammered home that you don't buy anything when you buy a digital item you just license it under terms that basically give you no rights whatsoever the quicker people will wake up and stop buying them.

    Thought there was a chance they could have played ball with this service since it does ensure the original item was deleted. But instead by asserting their rights they only enforce the message that the consumer has none.

    1. Fibbles

      "Thought there was a chance they could have played ball with this service since it does ensure the original item was deleted."

      It's a fairly dubious defence though. It isn't very difficult to copy a duplicate of the mp3 to a usb stick, sell the original mp3 and then once it's been deleted by ReDigi's software, copy the duplicate from the usb stick back to your hard-drive.

      I've been saying for years that if you don't like the license agreement attached to a film, song or piece of software that you should simply not buy it. When the entertainment cartels' income dries up they'll be forced to sell their wares under more favourable terms. Usually I get downvoted by people with the mentality of 14 year olds though, whilst they spout crap such as "lol I'll just download it for free, yarr!". They seem to be under the impression they're 'sticking it to the man' whereas what they're actually doing is screwing over the artists and providing 'the man' with a handy scapegoat.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
        Stop

        @Fibbles

        "It isn't very difficult to copy a duplicate of the mp3 to a usb stick, sell the original mp3 and then once it's been deleted by ReDigi's software, copy the duplicate from the usb stick back to your hard-drive."

        Similarly it isn't that difficult to rip a CD to MP3 and then sell the CD, keeping the MP3, but that doesn't make it illegal to sell second-hand CDs.

        1. thomas k.
          Coat

          Re: @Fibbles

          Wouldn't you rip the CD to a .wav file, convert that to .mp3, then sell the CD? Just saying.

      2. Dr.S

        Except that there is no license agreement attached to the purchase of a DVD. All I do is buy the plastic disc, and copyright law with its limitations provides me with the rights I need in order to watch the movie or resell the disc.

        In some European countries I will also have the right to make copies of the movie for personal use. But none of these rights hinges on any contractual relationship (license) between me and the copyright owner.

    2. Whitter
      Thumb Down

      What do you buy?

      It can all get a bit silly if you try even just a little bit.

      Say I buy a CD. What I buy is a disk with a series of holes in it. I use a CD player to read those holes into a digital equivalent, decode them, copy them to another buffer, send to a DAC, send the analog output to a speaker, wobble the diaphram a bit and make some sound which I listen to, decode in by ears to nerve impulses and so on and so on.

      I didn't buy the sound. I bought the holes. So is any of this process legit? I'd imagine as soon as I read the holes, that's a derivative work. I've stored bits of it endlessly as I've gone along because the design is easier in some cases, because I have to in others. So is that reproduction?

      Does fair use allow this? Not all markets have a fair use BTW. If it does, then there's copies in there: fair use copies. In what way are they legally different to other copies? Becuse they are only temporary perhaps - but I've never seen that in the small print of a CD case; and if it isn't on the case (info before you buy), it doesn't count. Again - depending on what juristiction you are in.

      Can we not have a grown-up chat about digital ownership - which probably means RIPA-types and the freetards are sent outside and the rest of us can sort out something sensible?

  4. Herby

    Seems that digital copies...

    ...ARE like beer. They are not free and you only rent them, not own them. As for beer, when you rent it, it transforms into something else, and eventually exits the body (trying very hard to not be NSFW).

    1. Blain Hamon
      Pint

      Re: Seems that digital copies...

      Comparing beer to digital copies? That we're only renting them because they eventually exit? Isn't that rather taking the piss?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't get it

    How does the ReDigi service stop me buying a track, making a copy of it and then selling the copy or the original. In fact how would it stop me downloading a prate version or taking a copy from a friend and reselling that an profiting?

    Surely this service just gives people ways to make money out of pirated goods rather than just getting the goods for free?

  6. Gio Ciampa

    So when do Amazon get sued...

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/06/amazon_patents_digital_resale/

  7. silent_count

    lose-lose

    However much the RIAA gains from "winning" this case, they lose in good will amongst their customers (assuming they had any to begin with).

    I have no affiliation with ReDigi but it seems like they were trying to do the right thing by all concerned.

    1. plrndl
      FAIL

      Re: lose-lose

      They also lose out big time on artists' royalties, since royalties are far higher for licenced copies than for those that are sold.

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

  8. Ross K
    Facepalm

    Ugh

    Much as it pains me to say it, this proves you're better off buying a CD and ripping it.

    Or just get your music from a newsgroup or torrent site...

    1. Fatman

      Re: Much as it pains me to say it, this proves you're better off buying a CD and ripping it.

      Exactly!!!

      More so, you have some control over the quality of the ripped file.

      If your taste is FLACs as opposed to MP3s; ripping your own from a CD is one way to insure a better quality rip.

      NOW you know why I never waste my money on digital downloads; give me the physical medium anyday!!!!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am going to take an unpopular side here.

    look, if this business was an auction house for used disc's I wouldn't have a problem, the problem with digital files is you can copy them over and over and over. I don't disagree that the heat being put on the USE of those digital files isn't hot, it is, I think they ought to be a little more loose with how you re-use it, but they have EVERY RIGHT to say you can't re-sell it. The fact remains I can play a digital file and make a copy of it even if it has drm, I can also get permission from Capital to play with this stuff somewhat when it's IN THEIR INTEREST. No legislation will ever change that. Capital Records has to TRUST that I don't do it. Yet, even if I have to Screen Capture it, I can make a copy.. Why do I know this? Cause I used to fix glitchy audio and video before broadcast. Bottom line is Capital Records spends hundreds of thousands on putting big resources behind making music videos and promotions, it's their property, and the bands signed contracts saying so because they wanted the muscle that comes with Capital Records. Three guys with a MiniDV camera shoot isn't going to make the videos you see coming out of Capital Records, it just isn't going to happen.

    My opinion about digital files is they should be able to be copied and used anywhere you want, even re-mixing, after you pay. But no website ought be able to re-sell them.

    about re-selling discs, I have no problem, since a physical object is being shipped. If someone was going to copy it, there's nothing to stop them just like digital files. The record label has to trust we won't do it. No legislation on paper can not change physics.

    I don't agree with ALL the other copyright insanity, there are already too many vague laws, and at times even the labels don't know what's happening. So don't think I am 100% pro big label. There is plenty of blame to go around. I'd personally love to see more re-mixing going on, but it's a tricky art and few are able to get permissions needed from the labels, ultimately much grass roots art and music work gets turned to vapor when it's deleted off the server. Other times credit isn't given to the sources. These things need to be hashed out. This story isn't finished so don't vote me down in anger with my opinion.

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge

      Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

      No angry downvote here, I agree, the entire idea was flawed from the start, but the record companies certainly are not making themselves any friends

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

        Who needs friends when you have $150k per infringement?

    2. Invidious Aardvark

      Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

      I'm confused. You seem to be saying that I can purchase a CD and resell that but I can't do the same with digital downloads because I might keep a copy somewhere. Has it occurred to you that I can rip the CD then resell it? Or do you trust me not to do this, in which case why can't you trust me to delete any copies I have made of my digital downloads when I resell them?

      1. MrZoolook
        Holmes

        Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

        Quote: Has it occurred to you that I can rip the CD then resell it? Or do you trust me not to do this, in which case why can't you trust me to delete any copies I have made of my digital downloads when I resell them?

        I seem to remember the RIAA/MPAA taking the same argument to court regarding the resale of physical media when seeking an exemption from the first sale doctrine. They have been trying to suggest for years now that everyone buying their members wares shouldn't be allowed to sell it... ever...

        It's almost like they are able to dictate constitutional reform or something *rolls eyes*

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

          I seem to remember the RIAA/MPAA taking the same argument to court regarding the resale of physical media when seeking an exemption from the first sale doctrine. They have been trying to suggest for years now that everyone buying their members wares shouldn't be allowed to sell it... ever...

          On this, the RIAA/MPAA is wrong, and this got shot down -IIRC. And you'll note you and I can still sell our discs. Even if these fuckers pass this bad law through years of attrition and corrupt trickery and bribes, how can they ever stop it? They can't.

          I don't see physical media re-selling as an issue. I love garage sales. -- MY Opinion.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

        Has it occurred to you that I can rip the CD then resell it?

        Yeah it has. You can rip an 8 track tape, or a vinyl lp also. Even before digital. The record companies always had to trust that you wouldn't copy an lp to your reel-to-reel, trom day one. You need to wear their shoes to understand.

        I can't trust you to delete copies of a digital file, because I would literally need a search warrant to validate the truth. Alternatively your consent to be searched. And since it can be hidden anywhere I get to search through everything you own, even a little USB stick behind your drywall? Wrong..

        With a Disc, you actually have to send a disc.

    3. beep54
      Headmaster

      Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

      Hum. "No legislation on paper can not change physics." is equivalent to 'legislation on paper can change physics'. I did not know that.

      Edit button, please.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

        "No legislation on paper can not change physics."

        Yes double negative, in the passion of the moment.. remove the "No" as there is no edit button.

    4. JP19

      Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

      "but they have EVERY RIGHT to say you can't re-sell it"

      No they don't. The only rights anyone has are given to them by the rest of us. Copyright was given to them by us for the benefit of us. Copyright is now so distorted and abused that on balance we would be better off without it.

      It is only momentum, stupid and bought politicians that stop this happening, a compromise which brings copyright back into line with its original intention of benefiting us would be preferable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here.

        .. "but they have EVERY RIGHT to say you can't re-sell it"

        "No they don't. The only rights anyone has are given to them by the rest of us. "

        When a band signs that contract, they give the label "Certain rights." (I'm being vague, because your being coy with the spirit of how this shit all works, and there is MUCH variability here) Within those certain rights sometimes the label can put that disc on a dusty ass shelf for 50 years and nobody EVER see the fucker. That's the power of the rights they may or may not have. Alternatively, a band might only hire a label to ONLY make discs, or have no label at all, or even be a label them self. So I know your not telling me a band only has the rights given to them by the rest of us. If that was the case there would BE NO MUSIC.

        .. IF you are talking about all the shit copyright laws they are making in the past 10 fuckin years then I have to disagree it's the people's fault, because nobody ever asked me if I wanted any of this shit, and I don't keep tabs on lobbyists. In fact aren't all the discussions for acta now happening in SECRET?! So How did I give the label any rights? I never voted on it, and Biden isn't my representative, so it's not like I can go start a impeachment recall over in his state or some fucking shit.

        Copyright was given to them by us for the benefit of us.

        Perhaps, originally yes. But now our rights are being taken them for their profit. That's fascism.

        Copyright is now so distorted and abused that on balance we would be better off without it.

        While you ARE 100% correct about it being distorted and abused, it's also vague (as I mentioned earlier where some labels can't give you a straight answer)

        ultimately I believe going without copyright is a utopian dream

        It is only momentum, stupid and bought politicians that stop this happening, a compromise which brings copyright back into line with its original intention of benefiting us would be preferable.

        Here we agree. The oath means nothing anymore. The rule of law is gone.

        Look if I was on the jury, I would desire to see the site goes down, but any monetary punishment dropped. WHY? well, just look at the banksters, how many of them got sacked or paid their shit back in full. ZERO. I'll let you know an inside secret, the bands, labels and venues are hell of suffering from this bankster shit too!

    5. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here (pengwin)

      >the problem with digital files is you can copy them over and over and over

      Which you can't do with a CD, surely?

      BTW a CD is just digital data egraved on a physical medium, so there's no fundamental difference between a CD and what you call "digital files".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am going to take an unpopular side here (pengwin)

        BTW a CD is just digital data egraved on a physical medium, so there's no fundamental difference between a CD and what you call "digital files".

        Oh, There's a difference, you converted from one format (which had a case, sleeve, artwork, and discs) to another format which is easier to play or edit. You aren't suggesting ripping the files on an original disc and then selling those in some glorified zip or rar file on craigslist.

        Where I differ is I say you ought to be able to rip everything, and re-mix (with due credits and permissions) if you make a remix which is better than the original art and the band or label likes it then there is no harm. If you make a remix which is just new art where's the harm. there is none. if you are re-mixing with the intent to steal the audio track, then I have bad news for ya, I think ya suck.

        I don't agree with all the copyright laws coming down like a hammer, but your not going to sit there and tell me a CD is the same as a digital file, that's just utter dark rift horseshit. Otherwise, give me your address and I will give you all my digital files in trade for all your discs.

        I think you get my point quickly, I'll "copy you a digital file, or files to comprise a disc" (what's your email addy), meanwhile you can start to package into a manilla bubble packs, mail me your (discs, case, inserts, flyers, swag, and artwork, no scratches please.) send them all to PO box 123 NoRealAddres, Far Away, Expen$ive ass3d shipping 66666

  10. Killraven
    Unhappy

    Just more fuel for the fire...

    Undoubtedly, this will rekindle the music industry's attempts at outlawing format-shifting. Being that this judge made it clear that, in his opinion, only the copyright owner has the right to make copies, and making a new copy is the basis for format-shifting.

    Interesting, and ridiculous, times indeed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just more fuel for the fire...

      only the copyright owner has the right to make copies, and making a new copy is the basis for format-shifting.

      The copyright owner may also grant permission to others for a plethora of shit. (remember I said, it it's in their interest?) Well this happens more than you think. The question is, are you in their interest? While I truly wish more would open up their work for re-mixing, it is what it is.

  11. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Home taping is killing music

    Lest we forget!

  12. g e
    Holmes

    So, instead of embrace and extend

    It's still sue, sue, sue in the music industry.

    I'd have said Capitol had a perfect opportunity there to really stick its flag in the history books.

    Instead it stuck it up its own arse, as usual. They all truly deserve to fail.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paid money for Digital? Well I guess you paid for nothing then!

    Now we have a clear legal ruling that says pretty much what a smaller group of us have been trying to tell people, if you buy digital you might not have any rights at all. Buy a physical copy and you have all kinds of rights.

    Long live Records, Tapes, CDs, VHS and DVD!

    Spend $1000 on a CD collection and you can give it away or sell it as you please

    Spend $1000 on a digitally purchased music collection and give it away or sell it & the evil RIAA will come looking for an extra $150,000 per song they "sold" you for $1 each! (Which will never get to the artists they claim to "represent")!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paid money for Digital? Well I guess you paid for nothing then!

      straight to the point!!

  14. Terkanil
    Unhappy

    Resale Loss

    It seems to me that the entire point of this, furthered by the judge's current decision is to bring forth a legal statement being that if some is purchased initially in a digital form, it at that point, no longer holds any value and cannot be resold. Thus, if you buy a digital item, such as a copyrighted musical work, and unlike something purchased in a physical format (CD, DVD, etc), it cannot be resold as it has to physical body to remove from your possession on sale. Or more simply, you bought it. Its yours. Period.

    Which means from a consumer standpoint, when you buy something digitally (which is becoming the seemingly preferred method), your purchase loses all value immediately. You therefore, also lose money as it loses resale allowance and value.

    1. JP19

      Re: Resale Loss

      "is purchased initially in a digital form, it at that point, no longer holds any value and cannot be resold."

      If it no longer holds any value how can anyone complain about it being given away?

      1. Terkanil
        Pirate

        Re: Resale Loss

        Seems They view it as Bind on Pickup items in many MMOs. Once you've got it, you've two options: keep it, destroy it.

        Otherwise, pirate. Don't leave us much here.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that the one with the real hair?

    "Phonorecord" indeed!

    If the judge had just said "well, a 5-year-old could get around this so it's worthless as a defense" then fair enough. But to say that the incidental copying is just a big old can of worms in the digital age. Worms which are probably smarter than the judge (yeah, I know, it's not hard).

  16. Suncoast
    WTF?

    Is Backup Restore now a Copyright infringement?

    Am I comprehending that ruling correctly? If my hard drive blows up, and I restore digital music from a backup device, an illegal reproduction has occurred??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Is Backup Restore now a Copyright infringement?

      Yes, but actually twice, since you backed it up in the first place. And heaven forbid if you run regularly scheduled backups.

    2. Dr.S

      Re: Is Backup Restore now a Copyright infringement?

      Yes. That is the primary rule. Though most jurisdictions have a exemption to the rule to provide for this kind of use to be legal. Here in Sweden the exemption is called Private Use Copying, in the US it's a part of their Fair Use doctrine. I believe the UK still lacks either of those exemptions though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is Backup Restore now a Copyright infringement?

      Nice one, that arrow assuredly needs to be fired into the bureaucracy.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    But to call the shots for the other side...

    Many people get huge collections, that cost a lot of money to build, and they tend to view them as digital clutter after a while...

    There is just too much stuff going on.... too much stuff going past, and too much gear to hoard....

    So why not invest in recouping your costs, by reselling your product to those who want it?

    It's like any collection - old comix, collectables, unused building supplies, boxes of bathroom tiles....

    My main issue is that it could be hard to resell much of it quickly anyway.....

    There is just so much available NOW, everywhere, and forget Capitol Records and their bullshit...

    There are 10 million bands / performers with their material for purchase, there are some 100 orf 150 years of recorded history on every subject.....

    Most of it is being lost and forgotten in the mists of time.....

    If we in the most wasteful of all socieities are still at this crap instead of eating the flesh of our dead, in 10years time, everything Captitol has on the market now, if they are still in business, will all be totally long forgotten...

    Buy a piano, book some time in a vacant hall and invite people over....

    Fuck CD's, Fuck TV, get a life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But to call the shots for the other side...

      WTF- I don't get the downvotes here, Oh4fS's actually spot on. "Fuck capitol records"

      There are millions of bands out there who give their shit away for free. While everyone used to laugh about myspace, and if those bands haven't all left for facebook(another bad move), or caught in the middle hating both.

      Capitol will still be around in 10 years. Trust me, I know. ;o)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judgements like this

    are exactly the reason why I will only obtain copies of digital media through "illegal" methods. I simply cannot support the way in which digital media is "licenced" rather than "sold".

    When this changes, I will. Until then...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me get this straight

    Basically this judgement seems to be saying that every digital transfer is equivalent to a fresh copy of the work. In which case the reloading of a newly purchased iShiny or reformatted one from iTunes with ones previous purchases amounts to new distributions of all the tracks in question. Apple must owe the artists zillions in royalties.

  20. The Nazz Silver badge

    The end of Cloud services?

    Surely it's the end of any and all Cloud services?

    The Judge is saying that it is impossible to transfer any music file, every transfer is a NEW file created from the existing. So what is the difference is a storage/Cloud service doing the same with my files? They must be making "new" and unauthorised copies also.

    So every single media file stored in the Cloud ( ie legit services ) must have prior authorisation from the copyright holders. Yeah, that's gonna work fine isn't it?

    On that note, i wrote to CBS records back in the 70's to ask "permission" to copy an Lp to tape to play in the car. I'm still waiting. The b*st*rds could've at least replied.

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