The ReDigi Controversy

By Regan Joswiak*

Photo by ~tk-for-short

Photo by ~tk-for-short

ReDigi—a digital media exchange company that allows users to buy and sell music—has caused an uproar in the music industry.

ReDigi was started by computer science professor Larry Rudolph and entrepreneur John Ossenmacher in 2011. For 49-79 cents, individuals can upload their iTunes tracks and sell them to other users. The files are deleted from the sellers’ hard drives and the proceeds are then used to purchase files from other users.

The controversy with this process is the first-sale doctrine, which states that the owner of a particular copy can only sell that exact item. Capitol Records sued ReDigi in early 2012 for allegedly violating this doctrine on the basis of finding it “impossible” to transfer digital files without creating a copy. Judge Richard J. Sullivan of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled that ReDigi was liable for copyright infringement, though the penalty for the infringement has yet to be decided.

However, this only applies to ReDigi 1.0, not the updated ReDigi 2.0, as discussed in this article. So, what is the difference between the versions? Ossenmacher answered this question during an interview with Time. “What ReDigi 2.0 said to our users was, if you have ReDigi on your device, what we’re going to do is, we’ve built this really cool software that allows the original purchase to go right to your ReDigi cloud, and then we download your personal-use copy right to your iTunes folder or wherever you want it instantaneously, so the user doesn’t really notice the difference,” Ossenmacher said. “Now when you want to sell it or stream it or whatever, you’re doing it from the original that’s in our cloud. We started that mid-last year.”

While there is apparently no controversy with ReDigi 2.0, the question must be raised: What are the limits with online data transfer? Not only with music, but eBooks as well. Bearkats, share your thoughts regarding the ReDigi ruling.

If you have any questions regarding copyright laws, call our office at (936) 294-1717, send us an e-mail at, or make an appointment online at

SLMS—Pointing Bearkats in the right direction.

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