Music News

Published on December 14th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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A US court says reselling MP3s is illegal

Physical music collections–privately-acquired libraries of vinyl, CDs, or tape–are bought and sold all the time. But what about libraries of digital music files?

Same thing, right? The only difference between, say, buying a CD at a record store and a download from iTunes is that one has a physical manifestation. Otherwise, they’re the same thing: a privately purchased piece of music and therefore should be subject to the same rules of resale.. 

Well, no. According to Digital Music News, the US Second Court of Appeals says that the reselling of MP3s online constitutes copyright infringement.

This requires some background information. Back in 2012 when MP3s and other digital files were the coins of the realm, a number of sites popped up offering “used” MP3s just as a physical store would sell used CDs and vinyl.

A series of lawsuits resulted challenging this idea, specifically around a resale company called ReDigi. Unlike physical media, digital files could be flawlessly copied, something that constitutes copyright infringement.

This week, the court ruled that, yes, MP3s are a special case due to the ease at which they can be reproduced. 

ReDigi has filed for bankruptcy protection. Meanwhile, most of the world has moved on to streaming. Used MP3s? Who needs ’em?




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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