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Federal judge rules that used digital items cannot be sold by consumers

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Mark Lennihan/AP

(Read caption) Selling a used e-book could be viewed as making an illegal digital copy of it.

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Finished with that digital copy of “The Help” on your Kindle and hoping to sell it somewhere else? 

Sorry – e-books being sold used may not be legal just yet.

ReDigi, a start-up based in Massachusetts which allows users to resell digital music on their site, was told by a federal judge that Capitol Records' rights are violated by such a practice. The company is planning to allow consumers to sell used e-books this summer. ReDigi has been in existence since 2011 and was planning an overhaul late this summer to begin emphasizing e-book content. 

However, Judge Richard Sullivan told ReDigi that it has been violating the rights of Capitol Records by allowing digital music to be resold.

According to the law, e-books are considered an original version of the author’s work. If you’ve already bought a version and then sell it to someone else, you’re making an illegal copy of the original work (the text you downloaded).

By contrast, according to the law, if you sell a used print book to your friend, you’re not making another copy of it, so you’re not going against the author’s copyright.

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