Have everything. Own nothing. Learn the difference
ReDigi and the RIAA
Opinion: The nutshell of the story is this: ReDigi has a bright idea about creating a resale market for iTunes-licensed songs; the RIAA objects and has sent the cease-and-desist; and world+dog is supposed to rise up Occupy-style against another outrage by big content.
To follow the logic of sympathy for ReDigi, I’m asked to put my suspension of disbelief into overdrive. ReDigi decided, in effect, to walk up to the biggest bully in the schoolyard, stamp on a toe, and say “betcha won’t ‘cos I’m wearing glasses”.
It's now got both nose and glasses busted not because the RIAA is evil, but because ReDigi wanted it that way.
Remember Napster’s mid-2000s ad slogan? “Own nothing. Have everything.” It sums up the relationship between you and the bytes you rent from Apple: you don’t own them. The songs on your i-whatever aren’t property.
It’s perfectly feasible that most users don’t understand this. But it’s not even remotely feasible that ReDigi didn’t know it.
Nor does ReDigi’s supposed belief that it can apply the “first sale doctrine” to its technology. The principle of first sale applies to the right to re-sell property, and there’s no property at stake in an iTunes song. Sign on with iTunes and you agree to a contract that gives you permission to do certain things.
Permission isn’t property. A license isn’t property. It’s just an agreement between two parties, nothing more.
And what’s ReDigi got out of all of this?
Well, it’s got a technology – complete with patent application – for verifying a remote file operation. That’s probably valuable.
And it’s got worldwide headlines: it successfully baited the hook for its marketing strategy.
ReDigi wanted attention and a sympathetic mood. It knew what it was doing when it stomped the bully’s toe. It wasn’t misguided or misadvised: it was strategy. Even if it gets to court, it will still be a strategy, because ReDigi will get a public and authoritative platform to demonstrate that its technology works.
Even if it loses, it will be in a position to sell its own technology to people who need what it has to offer. I believe ReDigi wants to be in the business of licensing its technology. Wouldn't that be a lovely paradox? ®
"Permission isn’t property. A license isn’t property."
So why do companies claim intellectual *property* is so important?
Really, if I pay for something, and later decide I don't want/need it anymore, why can't I re-sell it? It works fine for physical goods such as books and CD/DVDs, so why not for digital purchases?
I know the practical issues of copy vs original, but in *principle* why can't I resell something I paid for *irrespective* of what those who originally sold it might want?
Consumers are mugs
If the logic put forward in this article is right. That you own nothing that you have paid for on I-tunes, then it goes to show what mugs consumers are. They have quite happily gone from buying physical media, which could be legally resold, to buying a cloud copy for about the same price that you have no rights to anything with but listen to on an approved device.
I disagree with part of the logic though. A licence is a possession that has value and should be able to be resold. Obviously the industry would not want this to be the case, so that there is no used market for music any more as we move further into digital distribution. A licence is only valid for the first purchaser, so further purchasers who would have had to have brought used, now have to buy new. All for the same price as those old style physical copies. That's progress for you....
The presence or abscence of DRM is irrelevant. If you are leasing the rights, you are leasing the rights. They may not be able to stop you copying the songs (as if even DRM can do that, really!) but that has nothing to do with your ownership of the content.