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Can you resell your MP3s?

Under the “First Sale” doctrine, you can resell copyrighted material, such as books, CDs and DVDs without violating US copyright law. But what about MP3s? While copyright law appears to give you the right to resell legitimately purchased MP3s, according to a recent post on ARS Technica , it does not seem to allow you to “copy” those MP3s. So how do you sell a used MP3?
Bopaboo, a self described “social commerce club,” is determined to be the Mecca of used MP3 buying and selling. While Bopaboo is currently in beta, it looks to launch in 2009. While Bopaboo’s model seems to require copying of copyrighted MP3s onto its website, Bopaboo’s fate might be determined more by the size of industry it seeks to undermine, rather than by the subtleties of copyright law.

Markets for “used” virtual goods have been around for more than a decade. Markets for “used” digital music, movies and software are sure to come. Virtual used markets have the potential to provide not only greater profits to content producers, but greater value to consumers as well. This all comes at the expense of distributors like record labels and licensing organizations like the MPAA and RIAA.

How long distributors and licensors can stand against their eventual irrelevance is anyone’s guess. Even if Bopaboo eventually loses its battle against these behemoths, the resale of used digital media promises to be the record and licensing industries’ long overdue Waterloo.

Brett Trout

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