One of the great things about the printed word, the vinyl record, or even the CD, was that the item always retained some sort of value. The fact that you owned that item meant you could also sell that item, and the proliferation of options to buy used books, CDs, or even hunting through a stack of vinyl at a flea market had its moments of joy.
Such a parallel doesn’t exist in the digital world, where you don’t own something – you just have a “non-exclusive, non-transferrable” license that even led to reports that Bruce Willis was going to sue over the inability to give his music to his children when he dies.
Amazon and Apple both are taking steps towards the ability to change the distinction, by filing for patents that would allow them to open up used marketplaces for digital goods. Once you’ve exhausted yourself of Carly Rae Jepson or J.K. Rowling’s latest, you could then resell it to someone else. Indeed, ReDigi is already attempting to do this, although the record companies have already filed lawsuits.
The new efforts also factor in the potential to offer royalties to the original owners as part of the resale, a new twist that might get a bit more buy-in from labels and publishers who already see used copies as a damaging trend to their business.
After going on a splurge of music and DVD purchases during my time in college (which overlapped quite a bit with a long run at Circuit City and that blasted employee discount that made all that stuff cheap), it was good to recapture some of that money by selling off some of my unwanted CDs and DVDs. Indeed, during lean periods, it helped bridge a gap or two.
Unless something’s done, today’s music buyers won’t have that same option, yet another argument as to why the music industry’s been treating us pretty badly over the past 15 years. Hopefully Apple and Amazon succeed in their efforts to equalize the playing field.
SOURCE: The New York Times