Resell This: RIAA Lawyers Are Now Threatening ReDigi

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It’s sort of a fun theoretical idea, but not for the majors labels or the RIAA. ReDigi, a startup focused on re-selling used MP3s, is now getting served with a cease-and-desist by the major label group.

ReDigi claims that its model is protected by the first sale doctrine, which works in situations involving anything from used CDs to used cars.  Sounds like an interesting argument, though the major labels beg to differ – in writing. “As you are no doubt aware, the United States Copyright Act reserves to the owner of the copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, prepare derivative works from the original, and distribute copies of the work and derivative works,” the cease-and-desist states.

Actually, this could be a fairly interesting court battle – except, of course, that ReDigi probably lacks the funds to hire a serious defense team.  Most of the time, this is the first step towards getting buried, bankrupted, or both.

The sticking point is whether ReDigi should be permitted to create secondary digital copies – with protections – in order to facilitate the transfer of a used MP3 over the internet.   And outside of a direct hard drive hand-off, there’s little other practical possibility, though it forms the basis of the infringement claim.  “ReDigi cannot claim that its service is protected by Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act under the ‘first sale doctrine’,” the C&D continues.  “That provision permits the owner of a ‘particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title’ to sell that particular copy.  It does not permit the owner to make another copy, sell the second copy, and destroy the original.”