ReDigi’s Used Digital Content Platform Unlawful, Judge Rules

ReDigi, the online service that allows users to buy and sell used digital content, violates copyright, a federal judge ruled today in New York. The highly anticipated decision in this case is thought to have wide-ranging ramifications for the ebook marketplace.

“ReDigi vicariously infringed Capitol’s copyrights,” said U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in his decision. In a statement to the court, ReDigi contended that the company’s technology did not make copies of any content.

The decision essentially makes it illegal to sell previously purchased digital content. Despite the uncertainty around the issue prior to the decision, both Apple and Amazon have taken steps to build used digital content markets of their own.

In Feb., Amazon secured a patent for a used digital content marketplace. In March, Apple filed a similar patent. Apple’s patent application includes provisions for content creators and publishers to share in the revenue generated from content sold in the marketplace.

Still, the prospect was not appealing to the publishing world, which now must be sighing in collective relief. Had it gone the other way, it would have wreaked “havoc with the business model” for publishing, said New York-based copyright lawyer Lloyd Jassin. Jassin predicted in early March that Capitol Records, the plaintiff in the suit filed against ReDigi for copyright infringement in 2012, would win the case, citing the Vernor vs. Autodesk case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a sale of a license for a digital good came with limitations and that it could not be resold. The content in that case was software.

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