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Amazon Patents ‘Used Digital
Objects.’ Discuss.

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 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:

Geekwire, February 4, 2013., February 14, 2013., February 5, 2013.

Jenn Webb’s

John Scalzi’s blog, February 7, “Second-Hand EBooks.” Don’t skip the comments, which hit every angle of the issue.

Wired, February 8, 2013, “Amazon Wants to Get Into the Used E-Book Business – Or Bury It.”

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