The Magic Caf
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » On Selling Used Digital Goods (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page 1~2 [Next]
lelando
View Profile
New user
has stuck his foot in his mouth in every one of his
60 Posts

Profile of lelando
(I've looked for a previous post on this matter. Forgive me if I'm duplicating a question that's already been asked, but I couldn't find one.)

If I buy a physical trick (prop w/ instructions) and don't use it, I can sell it. If I buy a DVD and no longer use it, I can sell it. But what about a video acquired by digital download? Can I sell it, once, as though it were a DVD or Prop? I'm not talking about selling it repeatedly, which is obviously wrong, but what about treating it as though it were a physical item and selling it on the used market a single time?

I realize there are both Legal and Ethical questions here, and that when it comes to the questions of ethics, that there are always going to be differences of opinions. But I'm curious as to how most of you feel about this subject.

Cheers,
Lelando
Dannydoyle
View Profile
Eternal Order
20751 Posts

Profile of Dannydoyle
I have no idea the legalities so my only thought is intent when purchased.

In theory one reason to buy in that fashion is to reduce cost of production. So you are not purchasing a physical item. In this case in my mind that is the difference. So I would think selling it is wrong.

I have no legal or ethical opinion.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
lelando
View Profile
New user
has stuck his foot in his mouth in every one of his
60 Posts

Profile of lelando
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2014, Dannydoyle wrote:
In theory one reason to buy in that fashion is to reduce cost of production. So you are not purchasing a physical item. In this case in my mind that is the difference. So I would think selling it is wrong.


I understand what you are saying, but to take it a bit further: by that logic, one might conclude that a book or DVD's value should be based only on the materials with which it is made, and not on the content it contains. I'm fairly confident that isn't necessarily the case. I think content is the primary value, not the materials (wood pulp or plastic) on which it is printed/saved. There is also some reasonable doubt as to whether digital files are truly intangible, and whether electrons arranged in 1s and 0s are any less "real" than any other physical format. This could easily be a tangent on its own.

All things considered, I'm not sure that I find this particular reason to be compelling enough to convince me that selling a used digital item is inherently wrong.
Dannydoyle
View Profile
Eternal Order
20751 Posts

Profile of Dannydoyle
Much of books value is in the materials.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
bishthemagish
View Profile
Inner circle
6013 Posts

Profile of bishthemagish
I come from a day that I never returned or sold anything. If I buy a trick, a Video tape, A DVD or a book I never returned it. This was also the way when I buy music as far back a records. So I would never consider returning a download - or sell it.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

Producer of the DVD Punch Deal Pro

Publisher of Glenn Bishop's Ace Cutting And Block Transfer Triumphs
mastermindreader
View Profile
1949 - 2017
Seattle, WA
12589 Posts

Profile of mastermindreader
Selling digital materials requires sending them. That constitutes copying them. Hence, they can't be resold without the permission of the copyright holder.

The only circumstance in which I think it would be legal or ethical would be if you sold the physical computer or hard drive that contained the materials.
lelando
View Profile
New user
has stuck his foot in his mouth in every one of his
60 Posts

Profile of lelando
Quote:
On Dec 1, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
Selling digital materials requires sending them. That constitutes copying them. Hence, they can't be resold without the permission of the copyright holder.

The only circumstance in which I think it would be legal or ethical would be if you sold the physical computer or hard drive that contained the materials.


So, let's take this logic a bit further...

Let's say I have the file on my hard drive, but I move (not copy) the file to a USB thumb-drive. Or, for those who might be sticklers about the fine details, let's just say that when I first downloaded the file from the original seller, that I downloaded it directly to the USB thumb-drive. At this point, my only copy resides on that thumb-drive. Do you think that it's OK to resell the 'used' file by transferring ownership of the thumb drive on which it resides? It certainly seems like you'd approve; I'm just trying to clarify.

By the way, let me reiterate to the rest of you: I definitely feel like there is lot of a gray-area in this subject, in which both the legal issues and the accepted moral-and-ethical norms are still being slowly worked out by society. I don't know if there are any absolutely right or wrong answers here, which is why I think a dialog on the matter is important.

Thanks for continuing this conversation in a mature and polite manner. I am sure this subject is bound to generate some fairly heated (flame-throwing) words, but I appreciate that it hasn't gone there yet, and hopefully won't.

Cheers!
Dannydoyle
View Profile
Eternal Order
20751 Posts

Profile of Dannydoyle
What do you want the answer to be? It is not gray area at all. Bob has shown the absolutely legalities. So I ask again what do you want the answer to be?
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
mastermindreader
View Profile
1949 - 2017
Seattle, WA
12589 Posts

Profile of mastermindreader
Lelando-

In the very narrow circumstance you describe- downloading directly to the thumb drive, it is probably legal to sell the drive and its contents. (Of course, if a copy remains on the hard drive- as is likely if you ever viewed the file because it would probably also be located in the computer's temporary files- that copy would have to be purged as well.)

But always keep in mind that many digital files are simply licensed, not sold, to the original purchaser. In that case, any redistribution would be illegal if the license is not transferable.
lelando
View Profile
New user
has stuck his foot in his mouth in every one of his
60 Posts

Profile of lelando
Quote:
On Dec 1, 2014, Dannydoyle wrote:
What do you want the answer to be? It is not gray area at all. Bob has shown the absolutely legalities. So I ask again what do you want the answer to be?


First of all (and I really hope I'm incorrect about this), I'm already sensing some aggression, as is so popular here in the Café (and right after I commented about how pleasant it was, so far). So if you are getting worked up over this conversation, I'll ask you to please take a moment to take a deep breath and bring it down a notch. Again, I hope I'm reading the tone wrong, and if so, I sincerely apologize.

Next, I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge, and I'd venture a guess that no one else in this conversation (so far) is, either. That makes Bob's statements a matter of opinion and/or speculation, and not necessarily "absolute legalities." Sure, he may be right. But until a lawyer or judge provides us with some form of legal precedent, I'm hoping for a conversation in which people can express their opinions on the matter (as both you and Bob have done), and hopefully without one of those infamous Café flame wars.

Also, regardless of whether or not the legalities have been previously decided in court or legislation, that doesn't necessarily create an "absolute" moral/ethical code. That which is legal or illegal does not necessarily always fall in-line with that which is moral or immoral. So even if there is a legal precedent, opinion on the matter could still vary. Again, sometimes there is a gray area, and it is certainly worthy of a discussion.

I do not have a hard-lined opinion on this matter, which is part of why I asked the question in the first place. My initial thought, however, is that a digital file certainly could be treated as any physical object, and that it should be possible to resell the file a single time, removing it from your system, etc, as I've outlined previously. And while it might border on some legal boundaries intended to protect copyright holders, I don't necessarily see that particular behavior as being any more immoral or unethical than selling a secondhand prop, book, or DVD.

The most obvious problem with this sort of behavior becoming widely acceptable, of course, comes from the inevitable opportunist, the dishonest person who takes advantage of the situation and turns it into a bootlegging operation.

With more and more items being sold via download only, the ability to sell some of our "bottom drawer" stuff is potentially hindered.

On the other hand, there are copyright and legal questions to be resolved.

These are the "gray areas" of which I speak. There are many facets to any issue, and each facet holds its own set of pros-&-cons, depending on your point of view.

I feel like, to a degree, motivation and intent drives the moral/ethical question. Are you selling a single copy, as you delete the file, just as you would a prop? Then it feels to me like it's probably morally ok (which, as I pointed out earlier, may or may not have anything to do with the legal status). Are you keeping a copy on your hard drive, &/or selling multiple copies like a bootlegger? Then it definitely does not feel morally ok to me (which, again, may or may not coincide with the law).

As I said, these are my initial thoughts on the matter. I want to continue a dialog in which some people may agree with me, and others may not. And when someone disagrees with me, I may ask further questions, or for clarification, or play Smile advocate, just to keep the conversation going and keep people thinking. Ultimately, the purpose of this conversation is to open up my mind to a variety of points-of-view, to see things from someone else's perspective, and to help me figure out my own position on the matter (since I can already identify with several opposing arguments).

Cheers,
Lelando

==========================

A tangential post-script:

I have little interest in a world without "gray areas." Living by black-and-white opinions is, in my opinion, the driving force behind many of today's political problems. We cannot continue to subsist if we continue to carry a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude, and we must stop refusing to cooperate or consider others' opinions. The Café is full of examples of closed-minded flame-throwing. Let's share our differing opinions, and be open to changing our minds. -L.
Quote:
On Dec 1, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:

But always keep in mind that many digital files are simply licensed, not sold, to the original purchaser. In that case, any redistribution would be illegal if the license is not transferable.

This is something I hadn't even considered. As I mentioned previously, I would be curious as to any legal precedents on the matter, but it certainly makes sense, from a (legal) lay-person's p.o.v.

(Continuing my prior thought: This is the kind of thing that an open, and friendly, dialog allows to happen... New information can be shared, learned, etc, and allows for further shaping of a viewpoint.)
mastermindreader
View Profile
1949 - 2017
Seattle, WA
12589 Posts

Profile of mastermindreader
Lelando- I have a juris doctor degree and practiced law for ten years. My "opinion," therefore, is a somewhat informed one.
Dannydoyle
View Profile
Eternal Order
20751 Posts

Profile of Dannydoyle
First off when you see aggression in a post online it is the reader who has added it not the writer.

Second off as far as legal opinion why not ask Bob when he passed the bar exam? You assume he is not a trained lawyer. Why not ask him?

Sorry but this is an absolute and even if you do not like it that does not change things. Some things just are.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
lelando
View Profile
New user
has stuck his foot in his mouth in every one of his
60 Posts

Profile of lelando
You are correct, to a degree, in that the reader does impose some of the tone, and as I said previously, if I was misreading it, I apologize. I hope you can appreciate, though, that there can also be tone from the author in the writing, and that it can, too, be perceived. In other words, I think there is a tone imparted on both ends, and whether the reader 'gets' the author's intended tone is often up for debate. That said, I completely accept that I misread the tone of your post, and once again, apologize. I've come to expect aggression in these forums so much, it's easy to accidentally read between the lines. Can we hug it out? Smile (<- that's the closest icon I could find for a hug.)

You are right, I was unaware of of Bob's degree, and made assumptions. Again, my apologies, I stand corrected; he is certainly better equipped to address legal issues than most of us.

While laws may be written, I'm not always sure that it necessarily always make them "absolute." As I said previously, that which is legal and illegal doesn't always coincide with that which is moral and immoral. Laws are often created, changed, and repealed in accordance with public opinion. I stand by my belief that just because something is legal or illegal, doesn't mean the topic is closed for discussion. To some extent, I might suggest that the very existence of lawyers and politicians could be considered proof of this concept.
mastermindreader
View Profile
1949 - 2017
Seattle, WA
12589 Posts

Profile of mastermindreader
In my opinion, except for the very narrow exception I mentioned previously, re-selling digital materials is both illegal and unethical.
lelando
View Profile
New user
has stuck his foot in his mouth in every one of his
60 Posts

Profile of lelando
Quote:
On Dec 1, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
In my opinion, except for the very narrow exception I mentioned previously, re-selling digital materials is both illegal and unethical.


That certainly seems like a fair statement to make. It upholds the laws and ideals that protect creators and copyright holders, and as narrow as the exception may be, it still treats the content of the file in a similar manner to the same content in a different format (which was part of what sparked my initial question on the matter).

I hope you all understand that my intentions in raising these questions are in no way nefarious; I certainly don't want to enable people to screw over any creators or copyright holders. I am very curious, however, about how we treat digital goods differently from 'physical' goods, and why. I wonder if the varying standards regarding digital files is merely a reaction to fears of piracy. That would be understandable, but I also wonder, is it possible for honest and fair transactions to outweigh the dishonest ones?
Chris
View Profile
Inner circle
lybrary.com
1164 Posts

Profile of Chris
I am retailing digital products for the magician for 15 years and have thought about this extensively and deeply. Here are some of my thoughts and findings on that issue. When it comes to the legal side of it Bob has explained it succinctly and correctly. Keep in mind that 'moving' files on your computer strictly speaking always involves copying, because moving is implemented as copy-delete. There is no way to physically move a file unless you move the storage medium like a hard disc, optical disc, flash memory or similar. However, the legal situation is also completely unenforceable. These transactions are therefore based on trust. I personally have always based Lybrary.com on this implicit trust relationship with my customers. And my experience has been that the vast majority of customers is honest and perfectly willing to pay a fair price for digital products, and to abide by a certain moral and ethical code. Of course, there will always be some morons who will abuse this trust.

My ethical and moral opinion on the second-hand selling of digital products has changed over the years. Initially my opinion was that a customer ought to be able to resell his digital products just like his physical products. The customer would need to delete the file(s) completely from his computer, backups and any other storage mediums. But if he does that, then he should be able to resell the item. However, my opinion has radically changed, and here is the reason for it. It comes down to who should capture the profit. If I buy a physical product, say a knife, then as long as I own the knife I can use it. I benefit from its utility. Should I decide to sell it to somebody else then I loose its utility, because I can no longer use it and cut things with it. The utility of the product is directly attached to the physical product and cannot be removed. It travels with the product. Whoever has the knife derives all the benefits that come with owning a knife. Therefore I see no issue whatsoever reselling a knife. However ebooks are purely intellectual products. The utility are the ideas - in our case, moves, routines, building plans, etc. - which are described in an ebook. Once you have read the ebook, or watched the video, you continue to derive utility from what you read or watched no matter if you continue to own the product or not and no matter if you decide to directly use the moves or routines. Just knowing that they exist and how they are structured etc. is valuable. Essentially you have copied the information into your brain. Such is the nature of information. Say you read the ebook and are now selling it to your friend. That means you are deriving a profit from the sale, but you are not giving up the ideas conveyed in the product. The ideas are still in your memory. I therefore find it unethical that you should benefit from such second hand sale. It is immoral. The only one who should benefit from it is the creator/author be it directly or via royalties through his publishers/distributors/retailers. It would also be unethical to give away the ebook, because that decision again should only reside with the author/creator. Otherwise you are removing his ability to derive a profit from his creation. In the extreme one customer would buy it and everybody else can have it for free. That would work and would be completely unethical towards the creator.

I think anybody who values information and understands intellectual property will agree with me here. The intellectual property is the property of the author/creator. You acquire a use license of the information, but not a license to sell the same information to somebody else. There are of course border cases. Say you buy an ebook, but never get around to reading it, and then decide to sell it to somebody else. That would be fine with me ethically, because you have not read it yourself and thus not derived the utility of the intellectual property. Another ethical border case is if somebody dies. Say somebody has accumulated a large collection of ebooks. After the person dies the estate could in my opinion sell the collection because the person is dead and can no longer derive utility from it. It would therefor be fine morally and ethically in my opinion to pass this on to somebody else.

At least these are my current views. I am sure they will change and develop as I continue to think about this issue.
Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.
Dannydoyle
View Profile
Eternal Order
20751 Posts

Profile of Dannydoyle
The question is not all gray area in the law or anywhere. It is pretty obvious what the intent of the seller is.

Turning it into a gray area debate does not help creators.

But if it is thought of in the following way maybe it will help. If creators have to worry about this happening and the gray area becomes where we live then they will have to build that into the price of the first sale. To make creating worthwhile someone will have to pay.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Michael Daniels
View Profile
Inner circle
Isle of Man
1587 Posts

Profile of Michael Daniels
I agree with Chris's conclusions, though not entirely with his justifications, which could equally be applied to physical books. If I read a book, I may still retain, and be able to use, the knowledge obtained. Yet few people would see anything wrong with my selling the printed book on.

The issue seems to hinge on the morality and legality of the COPYING. With printed books, it is the act of making of a copy that is illegal, not the second-hand selling of an original. It could be argued that ebooks and other digital products should be considered in the same way. If I make a copy of an ebook or software (without permission and other than as a personal backup), then that is itself wrong and illegal. If I then give away or sell the copy, that compounds the offence.

As Chris points out, even if I delete my own copy of an ebook or other digital product (together will all backups), I cannot then legitimately resell the item since that would inevitably involve having made an illegal copy.

Of course, the original vendor may choose to licence the product in other ways, in which case the purchaser is bound by the terms of the licence. This is increasingly happening with software, where the licence may permit sharing by, for example, several members of a family.

Mike
Howie Diddot
View Profile
Inner circle
San Francisco & Los Angeles California
3288 Posts

Profile of Howie Diddot
I have purchased a number of instructional e-books from Library.com, and I have never sold an e-book so until reading this thread, I have by no means considered the ethical aspects of an instructional e-book sale.

Chris based on your well thought out and clearly written explanation, I have now adopted a policy of only purchasing e-books from owners of the original copyright, their agents and authorized dealers.

Chris's post is in my opinion the definitive answer of the OP's question in regards to purchasing and reselling instructional e-books.
DelMagic
View Profile
Special user
724 Posts

Profile of DelMagic
Chris,

Thank you for coming here and posting your thoughts.

I began reading this thread recently and quickly I began to think of Chris due his obvious connection with selling digital media. I sent a PM to Chris asking him if he would post any thoughts he had about the topic directly into this thread. He has been accommodating and provided the post above. Thank you again.

John
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » On Selling Used Digital Goods (1 Likes)
 Go to page 1~2 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2023 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.11 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL