In January, Amazon was granted a patent on tech related to the resale of digital content and now Apple has filed their own version. Not only are they covering quite a bit of ground with their patents but ReDigi is in court defending its digital resale system while a recent case in Europe supports the idea. This growing momentum means that musicians have to be prepared for the possibility of another hit to music revenue streams.
Amazon received a related patent in January with a different approach. Amazon maintains a centralized service while Apple facilitates a decentralized approach suggesting that they'll get their patent as well.
ReDigi is currently in court in the U.S. over their approach which has its own distinctive details. But all three are trying to find ways to legally resell digital content just as used books and cds are resold.
A decision in Europe recently set a precedent for digital resales of downloaded software. At the same time, battles over resales of digital download codes that accompany sales of physical items are heating up in the States.
Given that the discourse around music filesharing has reached such a heated level that no actual dialogue is possible, it's surprising that authors and the book industry seem much more aware of what's happening in this sector than do musicians and the music industry. Then again, once you stop listening, you generally stop hearing.
The eventual outcome may be that secondary sales are legalized but that licensing of digital content will become more restrictive. Since consumers don't appreciate restrictions such moves may be seen as justification to continue the ongoing guerrilla warfare we currently see with filesharing.
Given that increased surveillance across the board is making more people turn to virtual private networks and ever easier encryption devices, a related but separate phenomenon that goes far beyond filesharing, one has to wonder how this war will evolve.
Such developments will certainly give some musicians incentive to work with ReDigi, a company that wants to give them a cut, cause Amazon, Apple and, eventually, Google won't be offering that olive branch if they can avoid it. These developments may also cast minimalistic streaming revenues in a more favorable light.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.