When it comes to sharing MP3s, music enthusiasts are facing a moral dilemma. To share or not to share becomes the ultimate question. Torn between the desire to expose their favorite musicians and the wish to preserve the rights to royalties and income for their artists, fans have yet to reach a decision. If a friend says they’ll pay you for your old album, what do you do?
According to a recent Supreme Court ruling on March 19th, it seems that the first sale doctrine allows the re-sale of “lawfully made” copies of copyrighted work. Based off a dispute between a textbook company and a student who resold his for profit, the ruling has become increasingly controversial. When it comes to physical music, this decision on re-selling old material doesn’t come as a shock. However, the implications of this ruling are making waves throughout the digital music industry. Sale websites, such as ReDigi (basically an iTunes for used MP3s), are designed to allow customers to sell “used” MP3s for profit to interested buyers. As technology increases, so do the worries that artists are going to lose income for their work. It is no surprise that Capitol Records is suing ReDigi for copyright infringement saying, “ReDigi makes and assists its users in making systematic, repeated and unauthorized reproductions and distributions of Plaintiffs copyrighted sound recordings.”
Unfortunately for Capitol Records, ReDigi now has this recent Supreme Court ruling to back up its business. Because clients using ReDigi have to wipe their computers and devices clean of any MP3 they sell, ReDigi argues that their business is no different from a used record store. ReDigi takes the file and re-sells it for a discounted price, it’s just that this is a digital version rather than physical. Where will the line be drawn? Will digital music soon be regarded as physical?
Altavoz will be keeping a close eye on this battle and all its music distribution implications.