Judge Refuses Capitol Record's Injunction Request Against Music Reseller ReDigi
Geeks, technologists and the Internet as a whole raised their voices in protest harmony until Congress got the message that voters were not going to tolerate SOPA/PIPA breaking the Internet. "But big content remains tone deaf to this chorus of Internet users," the EFF stated. And like the RIAA which chooses to attack as opposed to innovate and move the music industry away from a broken business model, Capitol Records tried and failed in court to shut down ReDigi -- a truly unique and legal new way for users to sell their pre-owned digital music.
ReDigi is an eMarketplace launched in October and billed as "The World's One and Only Verified, Pre-owned Storage and Online Marketplace for Digital Music." It allows music lovers to recycle and resell their digital music, currently 32 cents for every song you sell. It also offers users the chance to securely purchase music for cheap, 79 - 89 cents on average. It's not about file sharing, but a legal alternative by verifying the iTunes music was lawfully purchased by the person wanting to resell it before that user's "one and only copy" is uploaded to the cloud for storage. ReDigi then sets up a legal sale between buyer and seller. While that might sound too good to be true to those of us with a gazillion songs eating hard drive space, or impossible, former MIT faculty and prolific technologist Larry Rudolph stated [PDF], "Being a group of computer geeks when someone tells us something can't be done, we immediately set a course to figure out how to do it."
As you might expect, Capitol Records thought the sky was falling and quickly had a copyright infringement cow. Capitol filed a preliminary injunction to shut down ReDigi, demanding ReDigi remove all Capitol-owned music and suing for damages of up to $150,000 per track. ReDigi won the first round as District Judge Richard J. Sullivan refused Capitol's preliminary injunction request. "This is a fascinating issue," Judge Sullivan stated. "It raises a lot of technological and statutory issues." The legal battle is far from over, but it's good news to see ReDigi win a major first round victory.
Legally, according to the first-sale doctrine, a person who lawfully owns copyrighted material has the right to sell their copy of it to a new owner who can decide to keep, give away or sell it. Is it safe? ReDigi FAQ replies, "Are kittens adorable?"
ReDigi's Jaclyn Inglis told me, "ReDigi technology is very sophisticated -- it was built by a team top programmers including previous MIT faculty and grads. The marketplace and it's process was built in anticipation of being a marketplace for all forms of digital media...expansion will depend on the acquisition agreements associated with those digital goods."
When asked about privacy and security, ReDigi's CTO, Prof. Larry Rudolph told me, "ReDigi is extremely protective of its users' data and privacy. In order to protect each individual users' privacy, non-uploaded digital file data is not stored on ReDigi's servers. Non-uploaded digital file data is private information to the user only and remains on their machine."
Does ReDigi have plans to eventually allow users to sell lawfully purchased digital books or digital movies? The "About" page says "Currently you can buy and sell used digital music on ReDigi's marketplace and soon we will be expanding to include used eBooks." Inglis added, "Our technology and marketplace is capable of supporting the various forms of digital media you mention, books, etc and expansion depends on a number of factors."
One of my favorite fight-the-RIAA attorneys is Ray Beckerman whose opposition to the injunction included [PDF] breaking down Capitol's "comical, entirely unsubstantiated, speculation" that ReDigi is selling pirated music. Beckerman wrote, "because plaintiff is inept and has been wasting its money on frivolous litigation instead of the development of useful technology which protects copyright, therefore it is 'questionable' whether ReDigi can have accomplished what plaintiff never could. Well it may be 'questionable' to Mr. McMullan, but it is the fact."
The legal battle is not over as Capitol, like the RIAA, always puts a 'questionable' warped spin on what it feeds the public. Such was the case in the New York Times OP-ED by the president of the RIAA, Cary Sherman. Reading it reminded me of when someone else strikes out and then tries to throw a fast curveball of twisted blame to say the strikes were committed by the other party. "Misinformation may be a dirty trick, but it works," Sherman said in regard to Wikipedia and Google alerting the public that SOPA/PIPA would cripple the internet. He had the audacity to further claim, "The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world's most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power."
"Oh, man. Don't make me laugh," Mike Masnick at Techdirt blasted back. "Once again, this is coming from Cary Sherman -- the master of mistruths himself. And he's really claiming that Google and Wikipedia informing the world of a dangerous bill is an "abuse of trust"? Really?!? I'd argue it was the exact opposite. It was an effort to build trust."
Expect to see more misinformation as Capitol fights against an innovative and legal first that empowers music lovers to legally buy and sell their "used" tunes. ReDigi's Founder and CEO John Ossenmacher said, "We hope Capitol can get back to their business and find a way to catch up to the times instead of trying to stop the innovation process, denying rights to their paying customers along the way."