September 09, 2005

Curious George: Used CDs Why aren't artists/record companies suing stores that sell used CDs?

Aren't they technically losing money on those sales, too? Wouldn't it be easier to track down stores that sell used CDs than find people downloading illegally? How is it worse for someone to download an album versus buying one for $3.99 at a used shop?

  • Might ask the same about second-hand bookshops. And e-bayers selling second-hand games and software. Uh... I got nothing though. By way of answers, that is.
  • Since the record companies don't have a valid case they need to sue those who'll settle out of court. Stores won't. People will.
  • Wikipedia sez: The first sale doctrine is an exception to copyright codified in the US Copyright Act, section 109. The doctrine of first sale allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e. sell or give away) a particular, legally acquired copy of protected work without permission once it has been obtained. That means the distribution rights of a copyright holder end on that particular copy once the copy is sold.
  • They already tried it once in the 90's and it didn't go over too well.
  • Yes, first sale doctrine. You buy it, you can sell it. This is where a lot if the digital downloads suck because you really aren't buying, but leasing and so you don't have the ability to sell.
  • Likewise Microsoft software.
  • I'd oft wondered the same, thanks Hlewagast and others for providing a sweet answer and thanks to danielo for asking it.
  • EULA are bullshit and not valid. You can't grandfather in a contract after the sale has already been made. It bait and switch, and totally illegal. Clicking a checkbox or button button in an EULA carries as much meaning as beating the first level of Super Mario Bros. Its just part of the process, and carries no meaning in the real world. The EULA is just the first level in the use of the software you purchased, and that purchase was conducted without any contract. A EULA could only carry weight if signed and notorized at the time of purchase.
  • With regard to producers of printed and recorded material being upset about resale.... Oddly, this topic just came up the other day, when I got into an annoying argument about it. Basically, I have been involved with zines on and off for years, as a reader and a writer. There is no single "zine community" - "zine" basically refers to any kind of amateur small-press venture that its creators wish to describe as such. But there are smaller groups that fall under the rubric, some of which tend to have at least a couple of sub-groups. Perzines ("personal zines") are one type of zine that usually have some autobiographical content, but might just be about things that interest the zine's creator. Almost all perzines are photocopied & have small distributions, usually less than 1000 copies. There are at least a few "groups" of perzinesters. The one I am most involved with has a vocal majority of people who are adamantly opposed to the First Sale Doctrine; they expect (and try to enforce) a system of zine distribution that is a lot more like that of DRM'd music files than the one generally accepted for printed material. I don't personally agree with this, because I think it is all kinds of contrary to any kind of punk ethic to try to impose a rule that gives people LESS liberty than US law. But I try to respect people's wishes when disposing of unwanted zines: give or throw them away, don't resell. If someone violates this, retribution is swift: in the most recent case, someone tried to sell a few OOP zines on ebay. One person posted about it, a few others jumped on it, the seller received multiple emails, and when I last checked, there was a plan in place to get the seller's home address (probably to blackball her from future zine purchases; she was not a member of the group involved). I don't think the idea of complaining to Ebay actually came up, possibly because there is no legal leg to stand on. The writer's reasons for objecting to the resale weren't completely unreasonable, I thought, but still pretty irrelevant in legal terms. I voiced my own opinion: that I don't care about resale of my own work if no profit is involved - which is also unenforceable, by the way. I added that when people put out a zine, whether they want ppl to respect their wishes about reselling, they can expect that some people won't, and it might be saner to take a moderately laissez-faire attitude about it. I'm sure this didn't go over well, but I left the discussion; I didn't see it going anywhere but downhill! I'm not sure whether that's "wussy" or "mature", but I know I've enjoyed being online a lot more since I made it my personal policy. I know there are various authors who have tried to start a movement to encourage fans to NOT buy secondhand copies of books that are in print. I know that my fiance rankles when he sees that his graphic novel, which has not earned out its advance, is available from resellers on Amazon. But he knows you can't force this kind of thing on people. Fiance has also put out numerous comics zines and has never cared about resale, nor have any of his friends. It just depends who you talk to; I think it's weird that there's this small group of people who, not for financial reasons, are so totally against FSD, and that I'm friends with zinemakers on both sides of the issue.
  • Perzines?! Holy shit, lofi anteblogs! Mother of Jesus, I'm-a starting mine today!
  • If by "buying" a CD (or software) the implication is that you're leasing or renting the songs, then you couldn't resell it. I don't see how this could be though, since music (and software) is sold and bought. Seems obvious to me. To go a step farther... it should be perfectly legal to resell a paid-for downloaded file, if the intent is to transfer ownership (and sole use) of it. Would be an interesting experiment to try to ebay an mp3 :)
  • I think that most sellers agree that the sale of used objects (whatever that might be) raises the level of sales on new objects. Pick up a used CD by a particular band, and it makes you want to buy their new CDs.
  • download an illegal mp3 by a particular band, and it makes you want to buy their new CDs. Wha?? ;)
  • verbminx, do you have a link to more on that? I'd be curious to read their rationales.
  • most sellers agree that the sale of used objects (whatever that might be) raises the level of sales on new objects Sales of used [objects] also increase the sale value of new [objects]. Re-sale of objects is simply an expected feature and has been throughout commercial history. Eliminating the used market is the same as saying that an object has zero re-sale value. How much less would you pay for a new car that had zero re-sale value? Plus there's the fact that any anything that lowers the barrier to market entry expands said market. In regards to Microsoft software, AFAIK the North American courts have ruled that you have the right of re-sale. However, Microsoft uses their legal dept as a cudgel to make this as difficult as possible. Microsoft doesn't try to sue the seller, instead they threaten Ebay and PayPal with expensive law-suits should software sales be allowed.
  • quid - totally! & you can take the horseless carriage over to the mimeograph shop to do it! ;) But people who love paper zines love paper zines and won't switch over to blogging even when it could be easier and more comfortable to them. Some ppl do both. dd42 - no, it's a closed community. The rationale is something along the lines of "this is the way it's always been done" (which means, most likely, that it was something started by some influential person or small group in the 1980s). Furthermore, the writer most recently in question commented that if she wanted the zines concerned to be available for purchase, she would still be producing them... fair enough, I guess. There is a perzine cliche that most people refer to any issue they put out more than a year or two earlier as "not reflecting who I am today" - however, some zines just go OOP because they were assembled in a time-consuming way and the writer doesn't want to deal with further print runs. The argument I totally DO understand, with regard to any kind of punk/DIY/etc community, is that it's not considered cool to make a profit off of someone else's work, or sell something yourself w/out explicit permission when the person who made it is still selling it. Bring up FSD in any way, and someone or other will comment that they don't think it should apply to zines: it's "contrary to community spirit" or "mainstream, and zines aren't" or etc. But don't ask for this to make sense with regard to otherwise-unavailable zines resold at cover price or less, cos it usually doesn't if you aren't familiar with at least a few perzine writers. People are very uncomfortable with money as relates to perzines; it isn't considered a good thing to try to make any kind of real profit. (Capitalism.) Most perzine writers sell their work at or near cost, but some people who manage free photocopies in some way or another make very small profits, and the majority think there's no ethical problem in stealing ("scamming") copies from chain stores like Kinko's or Staples. The presence of scamming tends to set prices very, very low, so that someone who genuinely needs to charge $4+ for a zine (because they didn't scam) may have problems selling it. Most people I know who charge more for zines and do make money from them (and aren't angered by resale) don't do perzines; they call them either "books" or "comics", even though they are physically similar objects. It seems that calling a zine a "book" or "chapbook" tends to double what you can charge for it, as well.