The Legality Of "Used" MP3 Sales Is Headed To Court

Brad Chacos

Courts have said it again and again: consumers have the right to resell their used physical media. That's why used game sales are booming at GameStop and you can pick up old Michael Jackson CDs at a buck a pop down at your local flea market. But do those same rights apply to digital versions? Can you "resell" an iTunes track? We'll know soon enough, as the concept is slated to have its day in court soon.

At the heart of the matter is a lawsuit EMI tossed at ReDigi, CNET explains . ReDigi resells digital music tracks; if you want to ditch a song, ReDigi peeks through your hard drive, copies the track, and wipes the original from your PC. In return, you're given 20 cents worth of credit towards buying "used" music through ReDigi, which normally cost $0.79 a track.

ReDigi doesn't offer new music of its own; the only tracks available for purchase are "used" tracks uploaded by users. When a "used" MP3 is sold, it's wiped from ReDigi's servers. Because of that, ReDigi claims its sales are protected by the "First Sale" doctrine that allows you to legally sell your Wilco vinyl back to your indie record store.

EMI claims that First Sale doesn't apply here because ReDigi isn't selling the original music file, but what EMI asserts is an illegal copy of the original file. The company was hoping the court would issue an injunction to immediately bar ReDigi from conducting business, but the presiding judge declined and said that he wants the "fascinating" issue to hit trial. He said the trial would decide whether the sale of "used" MP3s is legal or "just Napster with an in-between step," the New York Times reports .

What do you think? Should you be able to sell "used" iTunes tracks, or is EMI correct in calling the files illegal copies?

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