“Who would ever pay full boat for a new e-book if the same ‘used’ copy was available at a discount, or even free? And all those copies would compete against the publishers’ new copies on the same exact platforms.”
Next week, Publishers Weekly senior writer Andrew Albanese makes his way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in lower Manhattan’s Foley Square near City Hall to hear an appeal hearing in Capitol Records vs. ReDigi.
Four years ago, judge Richard Sullivan effectively shut down ReDigi, which had created a service that mimicked analog resale for the digital era: users uploaded iTunes files to ReDigi; ReDigi’s technology deleted the files from the owner’s device and held them in cloud-based storage; and finally, transferred them to a buyer’s device.
The publishing industry has watched the case closely, Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, as well as other players including Amazon, who have expressed interest in creating a resale market for e-books.
“On one hand, I do think Sullivan’s [finding] is full of holes. But I also see how straining to apply ‘first sale’ rights to digital licensing environment is problematic,” he observes.
“As publishers argue, allowing the sale of cheap ‘used’ e-books would swamp the industry’s primary market. After all used e-books, and all other digital media are perfect substitutes,” Albanese says. “Who would ever pay full boat for a new e-book if the same ‘used’ copy was available at a discount, or even free? And all those copies would compete against the publishers’ new copies on the same exact platforms.”
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.