September 9, 2003

Apple finally reveals that a sale of iTunes Music Service songs from one user to another is legal, though impractical.

"Apple's position is that it is impractical, though perhaps within someone's rights, to sell music purchased online," Peter Lowe, Apple's director of marketing for applications and services, told CNET in an interview.

Apple appears to have no intention of assisting users in transferring ownership of files from one user to another.

"They would have to somehow give their account info to the person they were selling to in order to get their Mac authorized to play the music being sold," he said...

"Economically, I don't believe there is going to be much of a market for resold music...We just don't see it as that much of an issue"

So, users would have to sell their entire iTunes user account, not merely sell some single songs. Or, users would have to find a way to change the ownership of individual files. That action would circumvent the DRM and violate the DMCA.

There won't be much of a market for resold digital music if it there is no way to resell part of the music purchased digitally. Although legal in theory, Apple appears to make it impractical to resell legally purchased music. A digital music file then retains no value when purchased. If one buys some scarce item, but is unable to transfer ownership in that item, does one really own it?

This follows up on my previous post, Dollars, Cents and Downloads.

Update: Hotelling sold the song by transferring the entire account. It's not easy.

Posted by Andrew Raff at September 9, 2003 06:47 PM
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