Will We Soon Be Able to Resell E-Books and Digital Music?

The New York Times reports there’s a battle brewing between the biggest vendors of digital books and music – Amazon and Apple – and the industries still stuck in the physical realm. The retailer’s button might say “buy now,” but you are in effect only renting an e-book. Currently, our digital purchases are legally treated more like licensed long-term rentals.  Sometimes we can’t even transfer our files to another system we own, let alone give them or sell them to somebody else. But if these systems allowed us to infinitely recycle our books, they’d much more closely mimic what we can do with physical copies.

Amazon and Apple, the two biggest forces in electronic goods, are once again at the center of the turmoil.  In late January, Amazon received a patent to set up an exchange for all sorts of digital material. The retailer would presumably earn a commission on each transaction, and consumers would surely see lower prices. Recently the United States Patent and Trademark Office published Apple’s application for its own patent for a digital marketplace. Apple’s application outlines a system for allowing users to sell or give e-books, music, movies and software to each other by transferring files rather than reproducing them. Such a system would permit only one user to have a copy at any one time. the United States Patent and Trademark Office published Apple’s application for its own patent for a digital marketplace. Apple’s application outlines a system for allowing users to sell or give e-books, music, movies and software to each other by transferring files rather than reproducing them. Such a system would permit only one user to have a copy at any one time.

 

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