Amazon granted patent for secondary marketplace for used digital rights

Amazon has been granted  a patent for an “electronic marketplace” where owners who purchased IP rights to digital content can resell those rights. The company originally filed for the patent in 2009.

Here’s how it would work:

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.

Amazon anticipates problems with this.  In their Detailed Description of the patent claims, digital object is qualified to mean “one which a user has legitimately obtained access rights to, and may permissibly transfer to another user.” The same is true with Amazon’s qualification of the actual transfer of ownership: “Transfer of used digital objects from the original purchaser to a subsequent purchaser of the used digital object may pose problems with respect to the first sale doctrine, license obligations, etc.”  Copyright, anyone?

Nonetheless, valuation analysts ask for and need details on secondary marketplaces for assets they are valuing. Though the details remain to be worked out, this endeavor bears watching.