Apple patent application details marketplace where users sell pre-owned digital content

“Apple filed a patent application Thursday to create a marketplace for used digital goods,” Laura Hazard Owen reports for paidContent. “The description is similar to the idea behind the patent that Amazon won approval for in February. Unlike Amazon’s patent, however, Apple’s possible system outlines the ways in which publishers could profit from the resale of digital goods.”

“Apple’s patent application describes a system that would allow users to transfer access to digital content — ‘such as an ebook, music, movie, software application’ — to others,” Owen reports. “As we noted last month, users’ rights to resell digital content is a contentious issue under current U.S. copyright law. This year, a court will rule on whether startup ReDigi, which allows users to resell digital music, is legal. Last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that users have the right to resell downloaded software.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Billy Cal” for the heads up.]


  1. See, now Bruce Willis doesn’t have to worry about what happens to his iTunes in his will anymore.

    I can just see the adds now…”Have you recently lost a loved one and inherited their iPod? Contact passwords are us and we’ll give you some money for their songs.”

  2. Big article in the NY Times on this. The patent sounds promising. Both Apple and Amazon are gearing up for the e-Book and iTunes swap markets, where people would be able to sell “used” e-Books and songs.

    Both the music, as well as the publishing industry see this as the death blow for their business. When it was the physical media, vast majority of people didn’t bother with the unwanted books or records / CDs; it was just too much hassle to try and sell them / trade them for something else. People looking to buy music or books largely bought them new.

    When Amazon introduced used books store, this seriously undermined the market for new books. Textbooks, manuals and similar have a rather short shelf life, so those were not seriously threatened, but the rest (fiction, some non-fiction genres, such as history, biographies, etc) that don’t change, they were hit really hard.

    Setting up an easy and convenient space for swapping or selling used e-Books will practically kill the publishing industry as we know it today. Why would I want to pay Apple $10 for a 1977 recording of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony by Berlin Philharmonic when someone is selling it for $3 (since they inherited it from their former spouse in the divorce settlement and want it gone)? Music might not necessarily be hit as bad as books (people tend to listen to music a lot, and build collections), but paperback books, which people buy, read and discard, will likely just cease to exist if this exchange takes place.

    I have no doubt the music publishing industry will invest massive amounts of lobbying money to fight these concepts. We’ll see what comes out of that fight.

  3. There’s no copy protection on digital music that you buy, so it seems there’d be absolutely nothing to stop everyone from buying music then selling it again, but keeping a copy.

    It makes me wonder why musicians bother to try to sell recordings. Technology seems to be making it harder and harder for musicians to make any money out of recordings, and easier and easier for listeners to get cheap or free music.

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