SCOTUS Asked to Permit Resale of Digital Music

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By George Khoury, Esq. on March 06, 2019 2:05 PM

With how far the music world has come over the last few decades -- where most music is now purchased digitally rather than in a tangible medium like a record or CD -- some consumers are often left wondering whether they can get any value out of their old digital files, or whether they're as worthless as that old pile of 8-tracks you certainly haven't been holding onto for any reason in particular.

Well, ReDigi, the company that promised to be the white knight of digital music files that you didn't want anymore, is taking their case up to the Supreme Court in a last ditch effort to expand the "First Sale" doctrine.

Who Is ReDigi?

ReDigi was founded in 2011, and shut down in 2013. It offered a service that allowed people to sell their old music digital files to others. ReDigi would ensure that the seller deleted their file, and would copy it over to the buyer. Unfortunately, therein lies the rub.

According the district and appellate courts, copying the file over means that the First Sale doctrine wouldn't apply anymore. The First Sale doctrine was meant to ensure that things like records and CDs could be resold by the purchaser.

Another strike against ReDigi, despite the fact that their case does seem compelling given the proliferation of copyrighted digital files in place of tangible things these days (i.e. books and music), is the lack of any circuit split, as only the Second Circuit has chimed in.

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