Amazon Patents ‘Used Digital
Continued from page 1 the U.S. Supreme Court, is considered a test of the first sale doctrine as it applies
to foreign-purchased works. Webb speculates in her article that the court’s decision, expected soon,
will affect physical goods immediately but could have an impact on digital goods as well.
Geekwire, which claims to have been the first to break the story on February 4, pointed out that Amazon’s
approach would “maintain scarcity of digital objects.” From the patent abstract: “when a digital object
exceeds a threshold number of moves or downloads, the ability to move may be deemed impermissible and
suspended or terminated.”
Geekwire also speculated on the impact of Amazon’s entry into the used digital marketplace on companies
such as ReDigi, which sells “pre-owned” digital music and has been sued in New York federal court by Capital
Records for copyright infringement. ReDigi responded to the news of the Amazon patent with a statement
that copyright holders should be concerned about Amazon’s approach. The statement noted that
ReDigi technology employs “a transfer only mechanism” that first verifies that digital goods are legally eligible
for resale and further noted that “to our knowledge Amazon has never compensated artists, authors, or
copyright holders for the secondary sale of their goods, and they have sold billions of dollars worth of them.
There is nothing in the Amazon patent that addresses this issue.”
Mike Shatzkin, publishing veteran and current CEO of The Idea Logical Company, was quoted on Wired.com as doubting that Amazon wants to resell digital content. “They may be patenting it to keep it off
the market,” he said in a February 8, 2013 article.
Other intellectual property experts, the Wired article noted, think the patent is simply Amazon’s attempt
at following the evolution of the marketplace. As of the date of this writing, Amazon hadn’t announced what
its intentions are.
For more detailed reading:
USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database: http://preview.tinyurl.com/axuznce
Geekwire, February 4, 2013. http://www.geekwire.com/2013/amazon-wins-patent-reselling-lending-useddigital-goods/
InfoToday.com, February 14, 2013. http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Amazon-Patents-Electronic-Marketplace-For-Used-Digital-Content-87733.asp
PaidContent.com, February 5, 2013. http://paidcontent.org/2013/02/05/amazon-wins-patent-to-create-amarketplace-for-used-digital-content/
Jenn Webb’s http://toc.oreilly.com/2013/02/amazons-used-digital-marketplace-paywall-experimentspublishings-future.html
John Scalzi’s blog, February 7, “Second-Hand EBooks.” Don’t skip the comments, which hit every angle of
the issue. http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/02/07/second-hand-ebooks/
Wired, February 8, 2013, “Amazon Wants to Get Into the Used E-Book Business – Or Bury It.”
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