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Apple and Amazon Flirt With a Market For Used Digital Items

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the authors-sharpening-their-pitchforks dept.

Books 138

langelgjm writes "The New York Times reports that Apple and Amazon are attempting to patent methods of enabling the resale of digital items like e-books and MP3s. Establishing a large marketplace for people to buy and sell used digital items has the potential to benefit consumers enormously, but copyright holders aren't happy. Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, 'acknowledged it would be good for consumers — "until there were no more authors anymore."' But would the resale of digital items really be much different than the resale of physical items? Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?"

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Resale? (5, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118665)

Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?

I don't think we need to look any further than this. Copyright holders have always hated the idea of resale of any kind; they think it loses them revenue.

Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, I don't have any hard data in front of me. I can say that if I buy something and it's mine, then I should be able to do whatever I please with it.

Re:Resale? (4, Insightful)

PhotoJim (813785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118697)

They stand to lose more revenue than with physical products. Assuming the issues of DRM can be overcome, a used digital product works precisely the same as a new digital product. There is no discernable difference between the products when you use them. This is not true for physical goods like cameras, cars, houses, etc.

Re:Resale? (5, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118791)

how do you figure they stand to lose more revenue? for one, no overhead (or much less) to host a few meg/gig file than to have a warehouse of 1 million books. Secondly the secondary market has not hurt book authors to the extent that we no longer have authors, why would this be any different? These copyrights holders want to sell you "the right to view/read/listen to X" but they dont want to allow you to own X. that is the key issue at hand.

Re:Resale? (5, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118925)

Probably because used digital goods are more appealing than non digital used goods. If I buy a used book, pages may be torn, it might have writing inside "this is for Dave, thanks for being Dave", or it might have coffee stains. A used digital book has none of these problems. This is going to impact the market significantly. Why buy a new copy for $10 when I can buy an identical copy for $3?

Unless of course they figure out a way to add the coffee stains digitally. THEN we're talking.

Re:Resale? (2)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119203)

Of course when distributing the $10 digital book, the publisher has costs of nearly $0 to make each copy that is distributed.

That is why I do not buy digital books. They are charging me the same as for a physical (hardcover no less!!) book when their handling costs for distributing books have virtually disappeared. Can't pass those savings on to the customer, no way!! Plus let make it as cumbersome to use as possible.

Note to publishers, we're not your freaking peasants who owe you a special offering to be privileged to use your books on our devices, but only how you see fit.

Publishers, until you give me a lower price that is respective of your savings in distributing e-book, and until you make e-book more usable on various devices, I'll keep checking out books at the library.

Re:Resale? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119477)

dupe? i swear this exact story appeared on slashdot yesterday.

Re:Resale? (2)

no1nose (993082) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120323)

It's the same story as yesterday; someone resold their copy.

Re:Resale? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119643)

They are charging me the same as for a physical (hardcover no less!!) book when their handling costs for distributing books have virtually disappeared. Can't pass those savings on to the customer, no way!! Plus let make it as cumbersome to use as possible.

This is quite interesting actually. I have seen many times on Amazon that the kindle version is more expensive than the hard cover.
It's a bit why should I buy the digital version? Ok, sure, storage space and bandwidth might be some costs, but I really don't think it is more expensive than warehouse costs.

Note to publishers, we're not your freaking peasants who owe you a special offering to be privileged to use your books on our devices, but only how you see fit.

Oh, but we are. The same thing applies to everything that is digital. I believe if the copyright holders (not only for books) could get as they wanted, they would only want us to buy the items, but not to be allowed to use them (perhaps for an additional per-view fee).

Re:Resale? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119427)

If I buy a used book, pages may be torn, it might have writing inside "this is for Dave, thanks for being Dave", or it might have coffee stains.

The stuff I find inside used books is half the fun!
Plus, far too many authors are dead and their contracts included no mention of digital rights.
There's going to be a huge number of out-of-print books that never make it into a digital format.

Re:Resale? (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119945)

Plus, far too many authors are dead and their contracts included no mention of digital rights.
There's going to be a huge number of out-of-print books that never make it into a digital format.

Not officially at least...

Re:Resale? (1)

Lazere (2809091) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119537)

As apposed to the situation now? While I honestly can't figure out what the purpose of used digital goods would be, they certainly won't harm anybody. There's already a huge market of "used" digital goods out there today on various sites. So, then, why would I buy a "used" copy for $3 when I can go to TPB and get a copy for $0?

Re:Resale? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119561)

but until someone has bought it for 10$, giving that money to the rightsholder, there are no 3$ copies. Also what happens when amazon stops carrying said book in the ecatalog?

Re:Resale? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119837)

Correction:

Until someone buys it for $10, there are no $0 copies. If I buy a book, and my buddy wants to read it, I can "sell" it to him for $0. (This is called "lending" and the copyright cartels hate it.) Then, he can "sell" it back to me for $0. That way, only one of us has to shell out the cash for the book.

Now expand this from "buddy" to "town" and you've described a library.

Now expand this from "town" to "world" and throw in digital media and you've described the Internet.

Content was always effectively worthless. Those that appreciate the content should be moved to care for the author by providing him with some material worth in exchange for the creation of that content. It's not about a worth-for-worth transaction. It's about enjoying something and appreciating the person who created it. That said, there's a lot of content I *wouldn't* appreciate. Fortunately for the author, someone else might.

What's lacking is trust. You can't trust a content creator to be any good. And you can't trust that your content will be appreciated. Solving that problem will be far more difficult than simply passing some laws or restricting usage by technological means.

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119689)

The other side of this coin though is that by buying a physical book, you're buying something you can collect and hold in your hand, and it's really only in this context that those defects matter-- "I'm buying a book, but I don't just want to read it, I want to own it and have it be pristine."

To this end, digital works already don't matter, and someone who cares about the difference between a new and used book is going to buy the physical version anyway, because they can't "own" the digital in the same way.

Now, one thing that publishers and buyers alike need to consider is that the low price point of digital work is already subsidized by the lack of resell ability. Publishers sell you that book for $1 because they know (or assume) that it's just for you, and they can get another $1 from your friend after you tell them about it, rather than your friend just appropriating your copy when you're done. The low entry price of digital media makes individual copies and sales far more ubiquitous, because it's so cheap and easy to obtain. I suspect that if used digital media sales become a thing, the publishers will probably try to raise prices to compensate, with potentially disastrous consequences as higher prices will act as a deterrent to -new- sales.

Re:Resale? (1)

Pausanias (681077) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120077)

Physical storage devices (books, CDs, DVDs) were inconvenient necessities required for publishers to make sale.

Wide availability of broadband means such storage devices are no longer required. They will be done away with, and everything wil be kept on the server. And licensed.

In another decade, this idea of "owning" software and books and music will seem quaint and antiquated, much like the idea of gold-backed currency.

Re:Resale? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118947)

for one, no overhead (or much less) to host a few meg/gig file than to have a warehouse of 1 million books.

That's inconsequential to the copyright holders, since they have no overhead for used items in the first place.

Secondly the secondary market has not hurt book authors to the extent that we no longer have authors, why would this be any different?

Why, because it's on the Internet! OH GOD EVERYTHING IS CHANGED!

But you're absolutely correct - a healthy used market is not going to ruin industries. Libraries haven't killed Publishers; Blockbuster didn't kill Hollywood; Funcoland (remember them?) didn't kill Vidya Games.

Re:Resale? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118991)

Speaking of revenue, Slashdot's overlords at Dice are catching on and pre-empting the flood of rabble-rousers expressing their protest of the Adspam articles - they are countering with a first post and subthreads of toady corporate shills.

How's your Slashdot, tools?

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Resale? (3, Insightful)

PhotoJim (813785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118995)

Presumably there is a markup in their products and at the end, there is some sort of marginal profit. Otherwise there is no point in providing this electronic product.

If you can buy a product - let's say a book - as an electronic product, and you can buy it from eBooks Inc. for $10 or used from who knows whom for $2, and there is no discernable difference between the products, which would you buy?

Normally we might prefer new products to used because they are in new condition, include all accessories, etc., come with instructions, and so on, but none of these issues apply to electronic books or music or videos. You have them, or you don't. There is nothing else to own.

At the end of the day, that profit that the new product vendor would realize is now gone, and the cut of the sale price that would go to the ebook author or musician is gone, now, too. So there absolutely is a difference.

Re:Resale? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119239)

Why should copyrighted work get special treatment just because it doesn't follow the rules of decay? This should be shouted as a triumph, not lamented as a loss to creativity.

Re:Resale? (1)

Goaway (82658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119431)

"Copyright" is, by definition, special treatment. And we grant that special treatment because we want to encourage people to create things.

We could have gotten cheaper physical books a long time ago if we just abolished copyright and let anyone publish anything, and compete on price. However, that would destroy the incentive to create new things.

With digital things, we can crash the price even lower, all the way to zero. This does not mean it is a good thing to do so.

Re:Resale? (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120261)

Well, it would destroy the incentive for people who expect to create one thing and live their whole lives off it.

I don't think Bach, Beethoven, DiVinci, etc. had copyright yet they created a LOT...

Re:Resale? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119891)

Why should copyrighted work get special treatment just because it doesn't follow the rules of decay? This should be shouted as a triumph, not lamented as a loss to creativity.

Simply put, because decay is the only thing that makes nontrivial copyright duration (beyond the time it takes to read or watch something once) meaningful.

With decay, there is a nonzero cost per consumer, because eventually the media fails and must be replaced. That cost, small as it might be, produces much of the content creator's profit margin for nearly the entire copyright term.

Take away the decay, and hundreds (or, at most, thousands) of copies of that creation can adequately service the needs of the entire world, because that's how many people are likely to be listening to the same song, reading the same book, or watching the same movie at any given moment. The world need only obtain additional copies up to that point, and once enough copies are obtained, those copies could be transferred instantly from a shared pool to whoever wanted to consume that work at that moment. This would effectively mean that no creative work would ever pay back the cost of its creation unless the creator charged hundreds or even thousands of dollars per copy, which is expensive enough that no one would buy them.

Revenue != Expenses (3, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119413)

how do you figure they stand to lose more revenue? for one, no overhead (or much less) to host a few meg/gig file than to have a warehouse of 1 million books.

Revenue is not the same thing as Profit. Revenue is how much you sell, Profit is how much you keep. Profit = (Revenue - Expenses). Just because Expenses are lower with digital media doesn't mean a thing by itself. Most of the costs for this sort of media are fixed so Revenue can drop without Expenses falling. If Revenue falls far enough then the company will lose money. It is logical that their revenue might fall but it doesn't automatically follow that they will become unprofitable.

Of course the whole notion of a digital items aftermarket is a bit peculiar...

Re: Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119983)

I don't know why but I like the idea that an artist can have control over his creations but allow us to view/read/listen them. He could allow us to download/distribute/modify also.

It's no different than a museum or library.

I want to own MY stuff, not other people's stuff, anyway.

Re:Resale? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118819)

It's almost true for books. In 99% of the time, a book from a used book store or library functions identically to a brand new book. Maybe the spine has a crease, but that doesn't really affect your use of the book.

Authors have survived for centuries with people redistributing used books. They will survive for centuries more with people redistributing used ebooks.

Re:Resale? (4, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118897)

Yes, but you cannot instantly create 10 copies of a book, sell them to be used in 10 different locations. A physical book is it's own "copy protection" in that you cannot simply hit a button, duplicate it, then transfer the copy to somebody else to use.

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119131)

What exactly is your point? This system is to allow one-to-one used sales. This means, that the original owner loses DRM rights and cannot effectively read their ebook again, and the new owner buys that right to read. It only goes to ONE buyer, not many.

Re:Resale? (3, Insightful)

ediron2 (246908) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119343)

Until PDF's got to be easier, grad school with internationals gave me a lot of exposure to pirated books out of China, India, Brazil, etc. Everything matches except for the paper quality (had a faint-formaldehyde smell).

Books have cloned quite nicely for centuries. And there's preexisting laws to deal with them. Copyright, however, never superceded the doctrine of first sale. And yet now we're getting sold digital media that copies easier but is denied via other channels.

Three reasonable non-pirate use cases come to mind:
- buying and selling used content.
- transfer of an estate's content (who gets my vinyl when I die, vs. who gets my itunes catalog when I die)
- transfer of content purchased for a minor child, when that child is old enough to open an account (13 or 18 or whatever). News recently had this with a content buyer vs. Steam. This varies from the 2nd because derivative data (characters, experience, etc) makes 'just buy a new one' deeply unacceptable without transfer of that additional data.

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118953)

It's limited lifespan usually, after a few lend outs, sell ons etc. the book can become a bit dog eared and less appealing, or ultimately losing pages and falling to pieces. Digital is unlimited.

I'd guess for some books it won't matter much as the shelf-life for any signficant sales is pretty short, offsetting against all the costs of warehousing etc.
Others perhaps not so, e.g. Tolkien which seems to be a long term seller.

Re:Resale? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118983)

It's almost true for books. In 99% of the time, a book from a used book store or library functions identically to a brand new book. Maybe the spine has a crease, but that doesn't really affect your use of the book.

Authors have survived for centuries with people redistributing used books. They will survive for centuries more with people redistributing used ebooks.

I suspect that, for books, what really scares them(at least the ones that are actually thinking, and not just bitching about anything that stands between them and their dream of getting paid per-eyeball-per-second for everything the've ever touched) would be an efficient secondary market.

Used books, barring serious abuse, retain condition well; but the market for them is physically segregated: New and used books are often sold through different channels(except textbooks, which usually hover right over their target population), in different stores, etc.

So long as that is the case, the impact is blunted. If, say, Amazon were able to add a checkbox to the Kindle that allowed a user to 'sell' a book for half what they bought it for(probably in Amazon credit rather than cash) and then Amazon seamlessly and immediately offered that 'copy' for sale to the very next person who went to buy a copy(and, since they wouldn't have to pay the publisher anything, they could presumably offer a modest discount off 'new' and still make a much greater margin), then the publisher could be up shit creek.

Re:Resale? (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119495)

The margin on the books are somewhere around 50% so Amazon would want to push the new book in your example, but that is more an issue of the numbers you are pulling together then the actual point. That is a valid point though that it would be seemless to buy the product used instead of new. I think it will become similar to large video games where you make a significant portion of the money on people buying it as early as they can when the used/pirated market does not exist.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I don't think killing used sales is the answer. Fortunately there is a large group of people entrenched against ebooks that will ensure paper book sales still matter. Probably the margins will have to be reworked between the distributor and publishers since the overhead for distributing ebooks is probably small.

And this is where I got the 50% [twoplustwo.com]

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119771)

Used books, barring serious abuse, retain condition well; but the market for them is physically segregated: New and used books are often sold through different channels(except textbooks, which usually hover right over their target population), in different stores, etc.

So long as that is the case, the impact is blunted. If, say, Amazon were able to add a checkbox to the Kindle that allowed a user to 'sell' a book for half what they bought it for(probably in Amazon credit rather than cash) and then Amazon seamlessly and immediately offered that 'copy' for sale to the very next person who went to buy a copy(and, since they wouldn't have to pay the publisher anything, they could presumably offer a modest discount off 'new' and still make a much greater margin), then the publisher could be up shit creek.

Doesn't Amazon already do that for printed books?
I don't know how it works, but usually when I browse a book on Amazon, there is an option to buy it used cheaper (where available of course).
And you can sell them your old books (for gift cards and not cash though).

Of course, still a bit different from digital since there is still this obstacle of shipping a physical item, but still, the system is already in place.

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120013)

What sort of scares me is a *really* efficient market for used ebooks.

I buy the book. I read to page 50. I put it down. My device sees I've not used the book for a minute, and sell it. I pick the device up again and unlocks the screen. As I'm unlocking the screen, the device re-buys the book. If I switch to another book, it sells the one I was reading and buys the one I want to look at.

The net result would be that there would only be sold as many books as there would be simultaneous readers at peak. This would, I think, ruin the book market, and leave us in a situation where only book rental (and piracy) would be possible.

Re:Resale? (2)

PhotoJim (813785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119033)

You bring up a valid point - a used book is as useful as a new book. Still, a new book is nicer to read and many people prefer them to used books.

This disappears entirely when it comes to digital products, so I fully expect the used market of digital goods to be significantly more popular than used markets of physical goods.

I make no comment as to the desirability of this - just my predictions of human behaviour.

Re:Resale? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119401)

the problem is getting the book into the used market. a lot of people would just throw the book out because the prices paid by the used book stores like Strand were too low for most people to take the time to sell their books

in a digital market that is yet to be seen and the uncertainty is what scares everyone

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120075)

But music publishers are the exact opposite. It looks like print is trying to close somw sort of perceived gap that music publishers enjoy w.r.t. license fees for "performance". I can see authors guild or print publishers pushing for a tax or fee for the user to participate in resale or loaning, construing both to be a "performance".

Re:Resale? (1)

jxander (2605655) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118881)

This is partly true. Sure, if I sell you my old digital copy of Harry Potter, it won't suffer any physical damage like a real book ... but you're still a decade behind the times. Value is more than the physical condition of an item.

The hard part (from a copyright-holder perspective) is ensuring loss on the part of a seller. If I sell a physical item, I no longer have the item. If I make a copy of my ebook, well now we both have a copy.

Re:Resale? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119829)

There is no discernable difference between the products when you use them. This is not true for physical goods like cameras, cars, houses, etc.

This is simply not true for books. A used physical book is no different than a new physical book. They both contain the same words. The both deliver the same data to the user. With music it might be true. Scratches on disk cause data to be lost. But it was never true for books.

Re:Resale? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119899)

There is no discernable difference between the products when you use them. This is not true for physical goods like cameras, cars, houses, etc.

But is is pretty much true for books, CDs, DVDs,. Even used vinyl records, cassette tapes if treated with care sound as good as new.

98% of the books I buy are used. Or from a library.

The difference is that you don't get them as easily or as quickly as the new ones, and maybe you have to wait for a copy t be offered.

Basically, as long as the previous owner has not kept a copy, same as with physical media.

They stand to lose more revenue than with physical products.

Compared with the current situation where there is virtually no legal resale of digital media, of course. Tough.

Re:Resale? (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118867)

The part of this that's annoying to me is not the resale of digital goods part ... that should be assumed to be acceptable in the same way as any or goods are resold. The part I find annoying is that these weasels are patenting methods of doing it. I have a lot of trouble believing that anything they propose is original or not obvious.

Re:Resale? (2)

athenaprime (1985324) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118957)

This. Seems hypocritical to me to say, "sure, anyone can resell any digital goods *that they own* but only as long as they use *my method* (implied "cut me a slice of every transaction) to do it."

What's to stop someone deciding to "resell" the "digital good" of "buying and selling owned digital items [on the internets]."

You can't maintain the copyright integrity on your creation, but I can maintain it on mine due to stupid patent laws?

Re:Resale? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119465)

I strongly doubt that the patents contain anything of worth(essentially all internet-connected DRM systems already include platform authorization, platform de-authorization, and a payment system, which is all you need to support selling, 'gifting', returns, and resale, so I'd be hard pressed to see anything worth mentioning on top of what already exists); but (given that the only reason that 'digital resale' is a novelty is because of DRM systems), I suspect they contain plenty of flowcharts and arrows, and outline a system that is given legal force by the good old DMCA...

Unless you get caught by the Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc. 'licensed not sold' problem, you can 'sell' kindle books and idevice apps and such. You just don't have any way, without violating the DMCA, of actually making them work.

Re:Resale? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118887)

Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?

I don't think we need to look any further than this. Copyright holders have always hated the idea of resale of any kind; they think it loses them revenue.

Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, I don't have any hard data in front of me. I can say that if I buy something and it's mine, then I should be able to do whatever I please with it.

I think you'll find that copyright holders (that's anyone who produces content -- most of us) fall on both sides of this fence. The people who have always hated the idea of resale of any kind are the _publishers_ who are currently in dominant market positions. Lack of resale of digital media has been their saving grace with the dwindling of their traditional analog market. Merge the two, and their role in the dissemination of copyrightable material dwindles to that of first sale marketing.

Re:Resale? (3, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118895)

The simplest explanation is that Apple and Amazon are patenting the idea of dealing with used copies so that nobody can sell used stuff anymore.

The slightly more difficult explanation, if you don't consider copyright holder in the same boat as app store (a sale is a sale for both, most of the time) is that they want to use the used stuff card to cheat copyright holders on the real amount of digital stuff sold.

Other interpretations seem too far fetched :)

Re:Resale? (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119299)

It's not really resale they are talking about, it's license transfer.

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119651)

Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?

I don't think we need to look any further than this.

I do agree with your points, but feel we should look just one step further. "Apple and Amazon are attempting to patent methods of enabling the resale of digital items like e-books and MP3s." This is a significant issue. Two major vendors are attempting to become the sole source of new and used digital content.

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119831)

Right in TFS: "Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, 'acknowledged it would be good for consumers — "until there were no more authors anymore."

You know, attitudes like that make me want to never buy any media new. I've written a book and working on a second, and there's no fucking way in hell I'd join the author's guild with idiotic assholes like that in charge. Damned morons make me want to never buy new media again ever and really make me want to get everything from TPB. Those jackasses can go to hell with attitudes like that!

Re:Resale? (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119861)

Yeah, been singing...err SAYING this for years (they might sue me for singing...)

Re:Resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120003)

So by your logic, you could buy one copy, and then do whatever you want with it... go back and sell it "used" to thousands of people. Seems legit.

Re:Resale? (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120429)

It seems as if less and less is actually "yours" nowadays.

Hey Scott! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118705)

Remember the tragic story of how centuries of people being able to freely sell/lend/whatever the fuck they want printed books exterminated all authors and creativity, leaving only a scarred wasteland, bereft of culture and picked clean by locusts?

Oh, wait, neither do I. Because. It. Didn't. Fucking. Happen.

Re:Hey Scott! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118923)

Unfortunately. We. Lost. The. Ability. To. Write. Properly.

Re:Hey Scott! (3, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118949)

Well, used printed books have defects. Digital used books will not, unless Amazon/Apple adds digitally ripped pages and coffee stains. In that case why wouldn't potential buyers opt for the cheaper yet identical used digital copy? Surely that will impact the market.

Re:Hey Scott! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119769)

I find the idea of "slightly used mp3s" kind of disgusting. Lord only knows where those things have been. I'd rather have a fresh copy than one that I had to be concerned about cleaning out dirty bits.

Captcha: flatus

Re:Hey Scott! (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119785)

I dont know about you, but the digital copies of books I own are all chalk full of defects. Missing words, incorrect words, sentences in the wrong order even in a few cases. Doesn't seem to impact the market value when they sold it to me, that's for sure...

Re:Hey Scott! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118967)

Cute, but we didn't have digital goods as they are today, centuries ago. And DRM is slowly going away. How are they going to deal with people buying a song and then reselling it? As far as the old music companies are concerned, it's all just lost sales.

They want it both ways (4, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118759)

They say own it now which implies resale is allowed.
If you try (like on Ebay with Windows CDs) you get told no, it's licenced only. you do NOT own it.

So if it's licensed, you should have access to replacement media when you trash your disc.
If you try they tell you go buy a new copy like the others.

They want it both ways
and terms of life + 70 years is not long enough.

Re:They want it both ways (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118945)

"Authors. They go both ways." - denis-The-menace

Re:They want it both ways (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119071)

They say own it now which implies resale is allowed. If you try (like on Ebay with Windows CDs) you get told no, it's licenced only. you do NOT own it.

Because that is the truth. You don't own a copy of it, you own a license to use it within the terms of the license agreement. Many license agreements these days do NOT allow the transfer to a third party. That E-Bay doesn't allow these kinds of items to be listed is basically because they don't want folks who don't know any better from being ripped off or sold licenses that cannot be transferred and then having to deal with all the customer complaints such sales would produce. Can't blame them.

If you need a copy of the install media for that original version of XP, then you should have kept a copy of it. By law it is fair use to copy install media, or keep backups of your computer that contains copies of your licensed software. So shame on you for not keeping a backup.

Re:They want it both ways (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119183)

You own the media, you license the content. You own your car, you license the right to drive it on a public highway. Strangely, when you total your car the state does not give you a new one.

Re:They want it both ways (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119927)

Considering I didn't buy the car from the state, this shouldn't suprise anyone. Course now that we've bailed them all out, im not sure where that might stand at this point, but that's a completly different question.

If you own the media, but license the content, that means you should be able to request a new copy of the media, at cost of the media, not the license of the content that you've already paid. Oddly, this isn't an option either, so your argument is false in two different cases.

Re:They want it both ways (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120067)

And yet, amazingly, if you should damage your disc they won't send you another one for a nominal or zero fee. You have to re-buy the movie or music at prevailing retail rates - essentially resulting in you owning two licenses and only one piece of media.

Software is going away from this model with free downloads and licensing controlled by DRM - if you lose your copy you can download another for free, using your old installation serial number to re-install it.

Re: They want it both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120287)

The difference is you can sell your car. Your car depreciates too.

Re:They want it both ways (1)

Pausanias (681077) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120035)

So they'll stop saying "own it now." Everything will be licensed. End of story.

Who'll stop buying? Me? You? Maybe. Most people? Nah, they've already been convinced to switch away from "own it."

Just pay the rent, pay the rent, and we'll keep on streaming to you.

Copyright is not compatible with digital content (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118771)

Copyright thrives on the idea of artificial scarcity. There is no scarcity on the internet.

As people have been saying for quite some time (TechDirt comes to mind), the only way to make money off of digital content is to make the person want to pay you money even in the event you do not control access, distribution or resale of your works.

Re:Copyright is not compatible with digital conten (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119369)

This is insightful? Seriously?

First of all, how does a concept like copyright 'thrive'? The whole idea of that makes no sense.

What copyright does is ENFORCE the idea of artificial scarcity, which things like the internet makes even more important if the goals of copyright are to be obtained (encouraging people to produce stuff other people want).

With e-books (5, Interesting)

razorh (853659) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118835)

How about they just sell them for a reasonable price (ie. not equal to or more than physical books) at which point there would be no need for reselling.

Re:With e-books (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119421)

the costs of printing the book are tiny compared to the multiple editors, making the cover, and other costs of bringing a book to market.

not like the author just writes a book. it takes 3 or more people to read it and correct hundreds of mistakes, send it back to the authoer, reread it, etc

Re:With e-books (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120217)

True and irrelevant. Writing, editing, making the cover, all of that, is a one-time, sunk cost.

With physical books, there is a per-book cost that the seller absolutely must exceed in order to make up for the sunk costs. They can't price the book below what it costs to print it and make up the difference in volume because they would lose money on every copy they sold.

With ebooks, the per-book cost is essentially zero. Theoretically they could charge one cent per book and still make up for the sunk costs if they sell enough.

The problem is not the high sunk cost to per-book cost ratio. The problem is that somewhere along the chain, someone demands that they receive a fixed amount per book. The instant that happens, the price they demand becomes a per-book cost, and the retail price of the book has to adjust accordingly.

Doesn't Solve Estate Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119707)

What if I want to give my collection of books, music, media to a library, or my children?

No more authors? (3, Insightful)

gregthebunny (1502041) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118857)

"until there were no more authors anymore."

Yes, because this free market will somehow manage to write its own books. There will never be a need to generate new content, ever.

Re:No more authors? (4, Interesting)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119001)

First, you could argue that there is currently more media in the form of books, movies and music than any person could ever read/watch/listen in a single lifetime, many times over. So the "need" to create "new" content relative to each person is currently nil and has been for decades. However, this is only a quantitative argument because media evolves with its era. Science-fiction from the 1940's seems simple and prehistoric from our 2013 point of view.

The second argument would be that there will always be authors. People who love to write stories and compose music will do so with or without financial compensation. It's the same with inventors, who create things because they have the need to create. If it becomes popular and the inventor starts making money because of it, that's only a nice side-effect.

Do not confuse needs with greed. People will always create, even after this concept of "currency" is long gone.

Re:No more authors? (1)

athenaprime (1985324) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119349)

"...inventors, who create things because they have the need to create. If it becomes popular and the inventor starts making money because of it, that's only a nice side-effect."

Just like the ability to eat and keep out of the weather are nice side-effects.

The biggest problem with digital resale comes from the fact that the creator only can truly "sell" one thing, before having to compete with the devaluing of his or her own work. I sell one book through amazon, then immediately, *amazon* gets to re-sell that book for half the cost. I never sell another book again, but Amazon makes 11,000 transactions off that single digital unit. Amazon, and 10,999 people who didn't spend a year and a half to write that book. Unless there's a way to compensate the creator for those transactions (and I'm by no means greedy - resell my book. But maybe kick me back enough for another brick of ramen noodles for the money you get back off my original work? I'll do you a solid then, and be able to survive long enough to write another one for you to enjoy and resell down the road), this effectively allows the *store* to sell more goods than they pay the maker of said goods for.

They'd have to at least offer a token kickback to the original creator--broadcast royalties, maybe--and they would *definitely* have to ensure that no more secondhand digital copies are allowed to be sold than the actual total number of original copies that were sold. And for that matter, maybe a serial number-type system where the digital copy released into the wild "devalues" over time based on the number of times it's changed hands. Interesting if they could do it. A type of compensation back to the creator would be access to that data--how many people resold your book, where in the world did it travel to, and how long did it stay in the possession of each person. With the data available via an incentivized "opt-in" system to protect consumers' privacy, it could be very useful to track digital content in the wild.

Re:No more authors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119851)

When I make a widget that most people only need once and isn't functionally degraded by use, I don't get paid when those people pass the widget on to the next person that needs it. Why should you?

Re:No more authors? (1)

Lazere (2809091) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120041)

I think you're misunderstanding the system the propose. Essentially, both Amazon and Apple want to create the same type of marketplace in the digital realm as currently exist in the physical one. It won't be "sell one copy to Amazon and they copy and sell that one infinitely". The system they're proposing would create the artificial scarcity needed for a second hand market. It will be, I buy a book from Amazon (who will send royalties to you), when I don't want the book anymore, *I'll* sell it to someone else, with no more access to the material myself. There are no more copies created, just a license moving around. At the same time Amazon will continue selling the "new" books alongside the "used" ones, but they will have a finite supply of "used" ones (only however many people decide to sell theirs at that exact time). Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it.

With the DRM those stores provide (1)

dehole (1577363) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118905)

With the DRM those stores provide, they should provide the platform for us to sell our DRM'ed digital files, since it can be assured that we won't be able to sell an infinite number of them (unlike the publisher). Adding the ability to sell "used" digital DRM files would be a win for consumers, but it would hurt publishers. My guess is that it won't happen.

Better Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118911)

Why should they have a say at all, other than ensuring the functionality exists to transfer an item?

Everything has to be a market, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118963)

You HAVE to get a commission on everything, don't you? You HAVE to wedge yourself into another type of transaction to unnecessarily become a middleman once more. Can't have consumers trading their stuff without you, you fucking asocial gluttons...

Check out Green Man Gaming (3, Informative)

wikthemighty (524325) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119015)

While I'm not so thrilled with their Capsule DRM system, Green Man Gaming [greenmangaming.com] has had a system in place to trade in digital games for some time now. I believe the developer gets to set whether or not a game can be traded in.

Re:Check out Green Man Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120423)

Fuck em. I refuse to buy anything with DRM (which is probably the biggest reason I'm no longer a gamer). DRM lost the entire industry a once rabid customer.

This is so staggeringly stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119059)

There's no such thing as a "used" digital book or movie or song.
What the fuck.

I'm gonna keep getting this shit for free.

Fuck you, Apple.
Fuck you, Amazon.
Fuck you, Hollywood.
Fuck you, MPAA.
Fuck you, RIAA.
Fuck you, Sony.
Fuck you, everyone who fails/refuses to face reality.

I would like to introduce the Wufferman Hypothesis: any attempt to restrict or control the transfer of digital information, be it for monetary, national security, or even arbitrary reasons, will fail, if the information is such that people want to share it.

GET WITH THE TIMES.

Reselling is a non-issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119259)

There is no problem with reselling physical property you own. The problem is with copyright itself; it is an illogical system if you agree with the concept of property rights or freedom of speech. It should have never been implemented, and the same thing goes with the patent system.

Every time I say this, I get a reply along the lines of "But what would provide incentive for artists to make art then?". The answer to that is creative passion (which is the incentive of a good artist anyway; copyright or not), and money (crowd-funding and pay-what-you-want arrangements can provide finances for pieces that require large budgets in order to exist).

I really see what you are doing Apple and Amazon (4, Interesting)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119303)

The bottom line is any resale model will have to use DRM. There is no conceivable way to do this with non-protected content. You can't resell digital content if there is no guarantee that the original copy will no longer be used by the original owner So yes, if you value saving a few cents off a $0.99 song or app then you are going to have to embrace DRM (meaning to bend over), period.

What Apple and Amazon REALLY want to do is start charging you $30 for an app, movie, book or album under the guise of allowing you to recover some of that financial loss through resale, only to get more money for every future resell of the product. You might get $15 back by reselling a movie, but then Apple and Amazon are going to sett up their resale system to sell back the item for $20, just like the way Gamestop sells used games.

These companies are not going it for our good they are doing it to get more money out of us by ultimately charging more for content and continuing to reap a profit off of content long after it has been "sold". Anybody thinking digital content resale is a good thing is oblivious to common sense and the greed of these companies.

I would prefer the price of content to be so cheap I don't care about recovering back financial investment. There is no reason to resell a $0.99 "thing", Nobody resells a cold cup of coffee. There is every reason to resell something that costs real money and its is obvious Apple and Amazon want us to start paying more money for stuff up front under the guise of giving us an opportunity to sell it to someone else. Just sell it to use for a decent price and end this stupidity.

Re:I really see what you are doing Apple and Amazo (1)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119881)

It's clear they are setting themselves up as middlemen, I don't see why they would bother with digital resale. I would think they would rather move further away from "purchase" and more into the subscription system where you pay continuously but never own anything -- netflix, spotify, etc.

There's just no percentage for anyone in digital resale, it's a concept that doesn't work unless they come up with some way of creating an uncopyable (and thus unposessable) digital file that somehow can have its ownership transferred but without being endlessly duplicated.

I think the ultimate solution to this and all piracy is a low enough pricing model where the cost of the thing is low enough that the idea of reselling it when you are done doesn't mean anything. The .99 cent song comes pretty close to this, although the $10 album seems a little too expensive to fit. They sure haven't figured out how to rent a digital movie, though, without too many restrictions (24 hour playback, etc) and the cost of digital movie and TV show purchases is ridiculous relative to the restrictions.

Re:I really see what you are doing Apple and Amazo (1)

rm0659 (2318932) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120019)

there might be no reason to resell a single $0.99 thing, but if you have 10,000 or 20,000 of those things then it could be very much worth your while, even with a hefty discount.

digital vs. physical resale (1)

Frontier Owner (2616587) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119313)

Digital today has the problem of no permanent physical medium to contain it. A book will eventually wear out and need replaced. A CD will eventually become scratched. There is no loss in quality or experience when we are talking about content stored on a drive with a backup in the cloud. its the same experience each and every time no matter how many times its sold, traded, or read. The easy fix is for artistic producers to just keep producing new, original, content that people will want to buy. Gone are the days of $10 for a CD with one song and 12 crap songs that you have to buy to get the one good song. Gone are the days of a $20 book that the spine breaks and is useless for resale after a couple years.

Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119387)

Heaven forbid something be done to benefit the consumer!!

App store purchases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119441)

I have more than $300 spent on itunes and app store.. I wish I can get some portion of it back

Truth hurts... (1)

catsRus (548036) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119485)

....... Mr Turow you are not losing money due to piracy, you don't sell as many books because your new ones suck compared to your older work. Quit your bitching and write good books again.

Simple solution (3, Interesting)

ciurana (2603) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119573)

The solution is simple and elegant: since these sales will take place over their stores, for items that came from Kindle/App Store anyway, they could have a small revenue share percentage with the copyright holder.

Someone should tell these guys that the alternative is what I do when I'm pissy at Amazon: Calibre to strip Digital Restrictions Management, dump to PDF, share to my heart's content.

Cheers!

E

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119859)

So when you're pissy at Amazon you fuck over the author, too?

Nice.

Asshole.

Used 1's and 0's..? O.o (1)

G0m3r619 (2860797) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119657)

How do you tell the difference between used 1's and 0's and brand spanking new 1's and 0's? In the digital world there is no such thing as used. What makes something used in the real world is wear and tear. That's why we have levels of use and pricing for used items. "Like New" and Abused All To Hell." I don't get it.

Re:Used 1's and 0's..? O.o (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120047)

Replace used with preowned. Preowned items exist in digital. These media companies sold people goods in stores. People purchased things using "Buy" buttons. They recieved reciepts for their purchases. The licencing of these goods is legal fiction. Judges in Europe have already ruled that resale rights exists. So it makes sense for these companies to start implimenting solutions before they get fined.

Re:Used 1's and 0's..? O.o (1)

ciurana (2603) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120317)

My point is to give the copyright holders a piece of the action so they STFU. That small % would be much better than the time invested into searching Usenet or other sites for an illegal download of a rare title, for example.

We here all know about Usenet, torrents, etc. and we also know that, if we look hard enough, everything is free. I would rather have a legitimized system that has rules, than the options of only first sale or piracy. This way we can all move forward and have models that work (lower costs for consumers, appeasement for copyright holders, a safe/good user experience, etc.).

I've been working with media companies for the last 18 months; the ones that "get it" try to come up with business models where everyone benefits from operations. The ones that don't will continue to be a pain, and will eventually wilt or get some force-fed enlightement.

There are legitimate reasons for a used digital goods. Take, for example, The R Book by Crowley. The digital download is ~$80 or so (prices fluctuate a bit, but not much). I mentor a bunch of people on IRC who would love to have the book, but literally can't afford it (say, someone in the Ukraine or Russia who's on a tight budget, or for whom the conversion rate is very bad in terms of his or her salary). With a used market, this person could buy it for a fraction of that cost, transfer the rights over, and get the information he needs; the publisher gets a small cut to stop the bitching, the user experience is safe, and so on.

I just rather see an environment where everyone gets a piece of the action and tries to do the right thing. I know as a fact that many of the guys I managed in Moscow and Russia would prefer a legit purchase (because I often paid for digital goods with my credit card, then transferred the license over when possible) if it became affordable or available legally.

Anyway - maybe I'm too pragmatic.

Cheers!

Copies are not physical property (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119731)

The problem is, it doesn't really make sense.

Copyright is not and ever has been about an inherent moral right to have exactly the same rights as with physical objects. It's a purely practical measure to encourage people to create. The majority are actually happy with this concept, and find the physical property metaphor easy to understand and apply.

But we don't need exactly the same rights. The owner of a non-physical object just needs to feel that they're not losing out. A mechanism for resale is one way to achieve this, but part of the problem is that with DRM you implicitly need the permission of the creator. A bigger problem is that the property metaphor (and it is just a metaphor) breaks down. If I can give you a copy, how does it harm the copyright owner if I also keep a copy for myself? The response to that is a complex philosophical treatise on the nature of morality and social responsibility with many points of contention that is a little too deep considering the motivation for sharing is typically a simple to understand impulse along the lines of "I wanted you to hear this cool song".

I think we need a better metaphor for copyright when everyone can make a copy.

I bought this used Skrillex album (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119833)

I think its corrupted. It sounds like optimus prime taking a dump into a dryer.

First Sale vs Copyright (1)

zarmanto (884704) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119839)

First Sale Doctrine vs. copyright/trademark/patent owners is a balancing act between the originator and the buyer. Take away the privileges of either side, or grant additional powers to one side or the other, and the system becomes unbalanced... corrupted. Simply put, both pieces of legislation must remain intact, and must continue to exist in balance, or we all lose -- one way or another.

A "used" digital item? (1)

Shompol (1690084) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120319)

Is it like a "used gun"? (Lord of War)

"really be much different THAN" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120493)

You American morons...
It's "really be much different TO", you idiots.

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