The future of music distribution through secondary markets

I didn’t mean to make that subject line look like a doctoral dissertation. I was just wondering what peoples’ thoughts are on the “used” market for those digital files that have been purchased through download as opposed to those extracted from physical media. Or is there some fine print in the download agreements we all consent to without reading that prohibits such things? Not that I’m looking to do that sort of thing. It just occurred to me that there’s always been a healthy secondary market for physical media of all kinds, ever since they were invented, and I wondered if anything comparable will ever develop for raw data.


This is an interesting question and was addressed a couple of years ago:

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I agree this is an interesting question.

If the current answer is: no, you can’t sell “used” music purchased legally as a digital download, I would say that’s a poor answer. Digital downloads that cannot be re-sold on the second hand markets have less value to the buyer compared to physical media, since physical media can be re-sold. If downloads were priced at 50% or 33% of physical, then the buyer is getting compensated for that lost value. Digital downloads are not substantially less expensive than physical media, though, so the value equation still favors physical.

Of course this all varies with legal jurisdiction, download platform, download format, etc. iTunes in the USA is only one context.

Ebooks are not priced significantly below physical books, but contain DRM. I am not aware of a legitimate secondary market.

The difficulty is an audio file is easily copied and what people want to “sell” will often be an illicit copy.

The same risk exists with physical CDs but at least they are selling something physical (we see people here ripping to a server and then reporting selling the CDs, or offering a server/player for sale advertising it comes with lots of music already loaded).

I do not have a fair solution.

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You’re right, of course. The marketplace is designed, not for good-faith customers, but rather against would-be violators of copyright law. Why we can’t have nice things, and so forth…


It’s pretty simple. Read the T&C. Here are Qobuz, Clause 20.1.3

Send a file to someone else and you are breaking French law, and you agreed not to when you signed up.

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I’ll have to make sure my wife understands that when I die, my music files can’t be given to anyone else, unlike my LP and digital discs. :wink: