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Federal Judge Rules Selling Used MP3s is Legal

by Adriana Lee | February 9, 2012February 9, 2012 5:15 pm PST

If there’s one thing that following tech has taught me, it’s that tastes change over time. Take MP3s, for instance. Maybe you thought that old ‘NSYNC album was a good idea. Or maybe Lady Gaga’s latest didn’t quite do it for you. Whatever the case, you wouldn’t be the only one with a bunch of musical cruft hiding in your libraries.

Well, thanks to a ruling by a federal judge in New York, if you got it from iTunes, you might be able to get some coin for it while liberating some much-needed space.

The case was brought on by Capitol Records, which was suing ReDigi, an online marketplace for iTunes account holders. People interested in buying or selling their old MP3s could hit up ReDigi, but the music label claimed copyright infringement. It embarked on a lawsuit to block sales of Capitol songs there and asked for damages of $150,000 per track.

But U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan wasn’t having it. Just like it was legal to purchase and resell a physical record album back in the day, reselling MP3 files should be likewise protected. (It’s called the first-sale doctrine, which basically says that anyone who buys a copyrighted work can legally turn around and sell it.) What clinched the deal was the ReDigi seller’s app — it verifies the deletion of a song file once the sale has been made. Without it, there’s little difference between selling a MP3 and file sharing — which we all know is pretty risky these days. But with the ReDigi app, Capitol Records’ lawsuit and its claims of copyright infringement were effectively sunk.

[via Ars Technica]

Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...