What will happen to IP value when digital content items are resold?

IP rights owners have seen the proverbial writing on the wall for some time, attempting to ward off a coming revolution: an organized market for digitized goods. The fear has been that used digital goods may well be perfect substitutes for new items, offered at significant discounts.

USPTO applications indicate Amazon and Apple have intentions in this space. Under the premise that there will ultimately be such an organized market, the Amazon/Apple model may not be so bad for the protection of IP value, as neither company has an incentive to adversely affect new sales of digital content on their own platforms.

The March issue of Content Licensing gave us look at the Apple application, demonstrating how IP value will be protected.

Authorized access to a digital content item will be able to be transferred from one user to another. First buyer purchases new digital content item from an online store. First buyer then decides to sell the digital content item to second buyer. The online store is notified (according to procedure) of this arrangement and determines whether one or more criteria are satisfied in order to allow the transfer to take place. If the criteria are satisfied, then the online store records the transaction and updates authorization data that allows second buyer access to the digital content while preventing first buyer such access. The application refers to the buyer with current access as the de facto owner of the digital content item.