Friday, February 17, 2012
Major Record Company Brings Copyright Action Against Upstart Company Selling Used Digital Music
Photo titled "I love my music!" by Shiv Shankar Menon Palat
Last month, EMI, a top record company, alleged that ReDigi, an upstart company that sells used digital music, creates unauthorized copies of its songs through the operation of its business. EMI brought a copyright complaint against ReDigi, asking the United States District Court for a preliminary injunction to force ReDigi to shut down its business pending the court proceedings.
While the judge denied EMI’s request for the preliminary injunction, the resolution of the case will likely answer many of the questions facing the digital age. Some of the issues raised by the case include the meaning of “copy” for copyright purposes and whether transmitting copies of digital material count as a public performance. One of the biggest issues brought up with this case are what property rights does a purchaser of digital music through a source like ITunes really have?
Back before digital music existed through purchasing sites such as ITunes, people bought music the old-fashioned way—by going to the music store and purchasing a record, tape, or CD. Once someone purchased the music album, that particular copy was their album. The person could not duplicate the album and sell copies, but he or she could use it for a year and sell it to another individual or to a music store specializing in used music albums under the First Sale Doctrine.
ReDigi claims it does the same thing with digital music, since it scans the seller’s hard-drive and deletes the music file once the transaction of sale is complete. This act makes it impossible for the song initially purchased from ITunes and sold to ReDigi to be duplicated or transferred. Is this not the same thing as selling your physical album for some cash? Something the court may have to determine is whether ReDigi has really taken away the rights of the digital music holder when it deletes the song from their hard-drive, or if in this advanced technological age the seller could in actuality retain access; posing problems for companies like EMI.
© Copyright 2010 The Journal of High Technology Law, Suffolk University Law School
Suite 450B | 120 Tremont Street | Boston | MA | 02108-4977 | Legal and Copyright Information