Used E-Books Coming to a Thrift Store Near You?

One oft-cited drawback of e-books is that they can’t be sold by the original buyer and then resold as used books. The original buyer, after all, is only purchasing license to use the file.

That all could change if a new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union gains traction, according to GoodEReader, an e-reading blog.

According to a ruling today by the Court in a dispute between software giant Oracle and UsedSoft, a used business software licensing site, original buyers of a digital product license can resell that license to a third party, providing they no longer use the digital product themselves. This could have ramifications for e-books, which, like software, are licensed digital files.

If e-books could be easily resold by readers, the effects on the growing e-book industry would be great. Used e-bookstores could pop up; new, exotic forms of digital rights management software could be developed; and the price of e-books, facing upward pressure from their new-found resale value and downward pressure from a used book market, could change.

Unlike used print books, used e-books wouldn’t have dog-eared pages, written-in notes from a previous owner or water damage. Then again, future e-readers and e-reading software might be unable to read old, out-of-date e-book files.

E-book retailers could come up with licenses that allow for limited use of e-book files that would preclude reselling them.

Read more at GoodEReader.

One thought on “Used E-Books Coming to a Thrift Store Near You?

  1. Noel Unwin

    Despite the pressure imposed by the French, Irish, Spanish and Italian governments to try to sway the CJEU on its decision in Oracle’s favour, I am glad to see common sense prevail on the subject of the Exhaustion Principle (first sale doctrine).

    If you pay for the unlimited rights of any product (tangible or intangible), you own it. You do not own the copyright and so as long as you are not making duplicate copies or breaking the product down and selling it off as your own works, you are perfectly entitled to sell that software licence to a second buyer.

    This CJEU ruling puts a long awaited dent in the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) tactics employed by the software vendors and such a ruling will make prices more competitive for businesses and consumers operating within a digital age.



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