Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Amazon Patent Digital 'Used' MarketPlace
The first sale doctrine which currently restricts the resale of digital files and in doing so obviates the second hand market, has always been suspect and now looks like its about to be tested even further by another piece of the evolving Amazon jigsaw.
The abstract below is from a US patent filed by Amazon in May 2009 and just granted in January 2013.
An electronic marketplace for used digital objects is disclosed. Digital objects including e-books, audio, video, computer applications, etc., purchased from an original vendor by a user are stored in a user's personalized data store. Content in a personalized data store may be accessible to the user via transfer such as moving, streaming, or download. When the user no longer desires to retain the right to access the now-used digital content, the user may move the used digital content to another user's personalized data store when permissible and the used digital content is deleted from the originating user's personalized data store. When a digital object exceeds a threshold number of moves or downloads, the ability to move may be deemed impermissible and suspended or terminated. Additionally or alternatively, a collection of objects may be assembled from individual digital objects stored in the personalized data stores of different users, and moved to a user's personalized data store.
What does it mean to ‘used’ digital media such as music and ebooks is not clear today. We still have legal rulings to be declared in the ReDigi US case and we have the same company declaring its intent to come to Europe to resell digital music this year. Now we have Amazon holding a patent, which like ‘one click’ could restrict others whilst opening up a market that has been threatened for so long, yet ignored by so many.
Not all patents convert and many sit in drawers. Amazon’s intent today is unclear and whether this was just to cover their lending programme, or is intended to cover full resale’s. Today their contracts restrict players such as ReDigi from using their files , but does this mean that they have been planning a further extension to their ‘walled garden’ all along?
Can this patent be used against others such as Redigi, or be used by them to support resales?
How will this piece of the Amazon jigsaw fit with the other significant pieces such as; Prime, FreeTime, Autorip, Lending, KDP etc?
The one thing that is very clear is that one company is building a jigsaw and can envisage the picture whilst others are merely tinkering with the individual pieces and the edges.