While it’s legal in the US to purchase a physical CD or DVD and then resell it to someone else, that’s not the case with digital media. The unauthorized transfer of digital music is considered to be illegal under the Copyright Act of 1976.

And that sentiment was reaffirmed this weekend by US District Court Judge Richard Sullivan, as he ruled in favor of Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records in its lawsuit against digital music reseller ReDigi for copyright violation…

ReDigi, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is an online marketplace for pre-owned digital music. It’s essentially a cloud storage service that gives users a forum to sell their old iTunes songs, and it takes a small percentage of the sale.

The company reportedly sought the advice of a number of legal experts and copyright attorneys before it launched in late 2011. But apparently that wasn’t enough, as Capitol Records filed a lawsuit against ReDigi in January of last year.

And today, AllThingsD reports that Judge Richard Sullivan has finally ruled on the case, siding with Capitol. Sullivan says that unless a copyright owner gives you explicit permission to sell their products, you can’t resell digital media files.

From the ruling:

“Finally, ReDigi feebly argues that the Court’s reading of Section 109(a) would ineffect exclude digital works from the meaning of the statute. (ReDigi Mem. 21.) That is not the case. Section 109(a) still protects a lawful owner’s sale of her “particular” phono record, be it a computer hard disk, iPod, or other memory device onto which the file was originally downloaded. While this limitation clearly presents obstacles to resale that are different from, and perhaps even more onerous than, those involved in the resale of CDs and cassettes, the limitation is hardly absurd – the first sale doctrine was enacted in a world where the ease and speed of data transfer could not have been imagined. “

And that’s the heart of this lawsuit, and probably a number of lawsuits to come: digital media is still very much a grey area for copyright laws—most of which were written in the late 70s. How can you be allowed to resell a CD but not a digital album?

Anyway, this is just a partial judgment. Both parties are to file a joint letter by April 12 regarding how to handle remaining issues like injunction requests and damages. At one time, Capitol Records was asking for ReDigi to pay $150,000 per track sold.

What do you think about reselling digital music? Should it be allowed?

  • Meh, who still pays for songs these days…

    • I pay the song I like, and I courage people to do as well.

      • Jimothy


      • Thanks. My bad

      • Jimothy

        No problem.

      • me too….loloolo

    • all of us who want to go to heaven..lololooool

  • No, do you think the person who owns it at first wouldn’t have the copy ad well?

    I think it should not be allowed. It is my opinion and I just think as I’m the artist who make living from selling it

    • Jordan Miller

      Please respond to my comment and tell me why I am wrong. Because I totally disagree.

    • Surely that’s a null point? It’s legal to sell a CD second hand and easy enough to make a copy.
      Law shouldn’t be hypocritical.

      • under capitalism laws are twisted and warped and designed to benefit the rich.. FACT

  • Jordan Miller

    Everything is going digital.
    So your telling me in the future once I make a purchase of a movie, song, video game, etc. I will be stuck with it for infinity.

    This just goes to show how freaking money hungry these record companies are.

    We have been selling our used entertainment since it has came around.

    From vinyls to 8 tracks and VHS to DVD. But now since its digital they have found a loophole to forever bind us to our purchase?

    Come on. I’m all for supporting an artist (mostly independent) but when it comes to this I’m going to be looking more toward thepiratebay.

    • Well, I do agree on the part where you say about stuck forever which it doesn’t make any sense to me either, but think about how the physical copy and the digital copy differ. First the digital copy now they are much cheaper, and how they are easy and portable. Also you don’t lose or you don’t have to worry about the Cd/DVD break sometime.

      Again as I told you it is just my opinion.

      If they can make sure that if say I bought it and decide to resell it, so I wouldn’t have the copy after I resell them otherwise you are now making money rather than just getting your money back.

      • Jordan Miller

        And to a certain extent I agree with you as well.

        But I am sure that they have had that technology for years and just have implemented it because it messes with their cash flow.

        And I am also the person that buys almost everything used lol I let everyone else take the penalty.

        My final thought is the world is changing rapidly and all these grandfathers at the entertainment industry’s are wanting to stick with their old business plan. That’s one reason piracy is so heavy in music.

        Either evolve or die.
        It’s the survival of the fittest.

        And on a side note. These record compaines are grasping at straws to stay alive. We live in a remarkable time where record companies are no longer needed. Independent artists are on such a rise because of YouTube.

        Look at Macklemore, Mac Miller, Logic, E-Dubble. Just to name a few. And I know I’m leaving some out so feel free to add to my list.

      • In conclusion, it is all about business and money because the record company making less money if it is legal to resell them, and as a result they have to bribe the judge or whatever to make the law that it is illegal to resell them.

        I actually love the idea of download from YouTube and convert to MP3 LOL

      • Jordan Miller

        Well look up Chris Dodd who was a Senator and I believe he is now President of the MPAA. Well guess who his buddy is? Joe Biden. And there are many more examples of our government in the entertainment industry and vice versa. And guess what the entertainment industry owns? News Channels. So in a roundabout way we only see what they want us to see. Which is why the Internet is such a scary place for them,

        Okay I’m going to take off my silver pointy hat now. But if anyone is interested in that kind of stuff google infowars, natural news, and torrent freak.

        Damn I am off in left field.

      • that is steeling!!! you will go to hell..

      • I think the only way it makes sense is that you will always be able to have the download, therefore if you sell it to someone, you and them now both have copies?

    • Very well said!!

    • … And shouldn’t our attentions be more focused on the daylight robbery that record companies are committing daily at the artists’ expense without any legal ramifications?
      Hopefully common sense will prevail eventually.

      • Jordan Miller

        So right! I was reading an article recently and 70% of the profit goes to the record companies and 30% toward the artist that actually created the work and that have the talent.

      • they have lost of money and strong political connections so its okay when they do it…hahhahaah

    • trumpet444

      I get your sentiment but stealing doesn’t really make it better. Stealing from a horrible person/company is still stealing

      • Jordan Miller

        I replied a long message in response to your comment but I had a curse word in it so I have to wait for it to be “Okayed”.

        Lord forbid someone reads a curse word.

      • dont curse its just as bead as steeling music ..,

      • lol we are all going to hell…

    • I agree, thepiratebay all day long. Screw iTunes!

  • I think if you purchased it you should be allowed too do what you want with it.

  • If i buy it & i dnt like it. I should be able to sell it. I should be able to sell anything i buy period

  • What if itunes made all music free, but molested itself and idevices and all that stuff with ads? Surely that would put a stop to piracy

    • Ben

      Beacause no one would by a phone with ads all through it…

    • Someone will develop a tweak to remove the ads then

  • WolfgangHoltz

    Someone really cares, not me anyway.
    The media industry people must be so high on heroin all the time so they completely stopped to think. Do the world a favor and give yourself an overdose and sail away.

  • Falk M.

    Haha, you folks got the short stick… I’m sorry for all my US American friends, even though I started this post with apparent ridicule.

    Luckily, in the EU you’re allowed to resell digital software purchases and it’s expected that this court ruling does give a legal hint on how other digital purchases of media have to be handled.

  • dont apple (iTunes) re-sell the same copy of the song over and over again?

    • KingKon_NL

      Yes, but they’re paying the copyright owner and have permission to do so. When you resell your mp3, I guess you’re probably not paying the music label…

  • lool… this will only affect the lamest of the lame…

  • Just listen to many radio stations available why buy music when you can listen for free and legally