Recycling’s Legit! ReDigi Bites Back Against Capitol Records

Can’t say I ever “got” the whole recycled MP3 thing, but ReDigi’s right to exist is a different matter entirely.

Now, after receiving a sharp cease-and-desist from the RIAA and a lawsuit from EMI-owned Capitol Records, used MP3 reseller ReDigi is trying to get the case tossed.  On Friday morning, the Boston-based startup moved to close the case on summary judgment, which basically means trash the case entirely.

Capitol Records soon followed with a request for preliminary injunction, which would force ReDigi to stop its operations based on immediate harm.

Music fans have been buying, selling, and listening to used stuff for decades, and there were actually high-pitched battles over physical resale (see ‘Garth Brooks’).  But the digital era introduces an entirely different discussion, simply because an MP3 is instantly duplicated and its ownership more difficult to ascertain.  And in a marketplace already dragged by substantial piracy, labels like Capitol are doing everything they can to maintain steady pricing and control.

ReDigi is unfortunately pressing all the wrong tech-buttons right now.  The company offers its users cloud-based storage of their songs, and the ability to sell-and-transfer those tracks to others.  That, according to Capitol’s complaint, denies the company their exclusive right to distribute, reproduce, and perform their music, among other violations.  Beyond that, ReDigi has been accused of far worse, most of it unsubstantiated.

ReDigi obviously feels that their customers have the right to resell.  “If the opponents to ReDigi’s truly novel solution get their way, consumers will be deprived of their intrinsic ownership rights to their digital property – property that they have purchased, not licensed, and which EMI seeks desperately to deny,” a ReDigi executive told Digital Music News.  “This myopic perspective would serve only to perpetuate irresponsible consumer behavior and piracy, hastening the industry’s own demise.

This sounds like a locker gone bad, with stolen files and a half-baked moneymaking scheme attached.  But ReDigi is emphatically pointing to a system that only allows the upload and resale of iTunes-download songs, and erases access to these tracks after resale.  “No copying takes place in the resale process at all,” attorney Morlan Ty Rogers of Ray Beckerman PC described.