Apple's new patent application to pave the way for pre-loved iTunes?
Actually, no. Recent reports in the US that Bruce Willis was suing Apple for the right to bequeath his music collection to his daughters have been grossly exaggerated, but the point is the same. As far as Apple are concerned, you are purchasing a non-transferable right to content- their terms and conditions for iTunes currently state that content is borrowed under a specific licence, capable of transfer between 5 devices, and not actually owned. Or at least not in the way ownership has been understood up til now.
Now, according to Apple Insider, the US Patent Office has revealed that Apple is seeking a patent for a ‘used’ digital rights resale service, very similar to one granted to Amazon in January. They suggest a new used iTunes store may be on its way very shortly.
The system would allow restrictions on transfer and these could be set by the publisher- for example, e-books may not be resold within a six month period or could be on a frequency of transfer, price and to whom the content is sold basis. The system may also considers any proceeds on resale and would potentially allow publishers rights over a portion of the resale value. So you can sell your stuff, but you won't get to keep all of the selling price. Publishers, of course, are bound to think this is only right and fair, disregarding the fact that non-digital producers of, well anything, don't get the merest sniff of a look in on second hand sales, including books. But is that only down to practicalities and the fact that digital items can now be so encumbered- the question should really be whether publishers ought to have the right to a return from their content ad infinitum? Even authors only retain copyright for their lifetime plus 70 years.
Given the recent announcement that the new Xbox will refuse to play resold games, is this likely second-hand market a good thing, or is the whole concept of digital content that you never actually own simply flawed from the outset?
Let’s all go Groovesharking.