ReDigi is Ridiculous

I was reading an article about ReDigi, a company that wants to answer ridiculous interpretations of the First-sale Doctrine as it pertains to digital goods with marketing gobbledygook.

First, I commend companies who keep an eye on where they’re getting mentioned online and respond to people when appropriate. But this only works when you engage the fan or critic. When you just comment on blog posts to say how great you are without addressing any of the concerns, you’re not likely to win any fans.

I have a bunch of problems with ReDigi. I have a problem with the need for them to exist. Either I can resell any digital content I bought, through whatever channel I chose (eBay, Craigslist, a street corner, whatever), or I haven’t actually bought it, and instead I have purchased a revocable license to use the content in some limited manner. In either case, there is no need for ReDigi.

I have a problem with their claims that the patent they’re getting will let them ensure that the original file is deleted and that no copy is ever made. Technically, I don’t think there’s any way they can possibly do this unless the file only exists within ReDigi’s software. Even then it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out a way around whatever they’re doing. That may keep ReDigi on the right side of the law, but it doesn’t make it not ridiculous.

I have a problem with “used” digital content. It just doesn’t make any sense. If it costs the same as “original” digital content, then there’s no difference between the two. If it’s cheaper, that doesn’t make any sense, either, because it’s exactly the same collection of ones and zeroes. It’s not diminished because I read it or listened to it or watched it.

Lastly, you can’t grow a market by introducing inefficiencies. Creating this big framework to stay out of legal trouble is only sort of viable because the status quos is (and I’m overusing this word, but it just fits) ridiculous. Also, I was really, really tempted to title this post “ReDigi is ReDiculous” but I thought people would think I mispelled “Ridiculous”.

It’s not the DRM, it’s the inconvenience

There’s not one word about digital rights management that keeps readers from moving their purchases to another hardware platform. Why would people forego their main e-book vendor if they lose everything they bought when they switch? What does DBW think those “walls” are built out of, papier-mâché?

Teleread: Surprise! Most consumers buy e-books from a single retailer

I don’t quite agree with this. It is unsuprising that most people who buy ebooks buy them from one retailer. I buy all my ebooks from Kobo. And while I think DRM is a bad idea for numerous reasons, for both the buyer and the seller, it’s not the whole story here.

I am technically competent enough to get DRM-free ebooks of whatever I want. I could either download them for free from any number of sites, or purchase them and strip the DRM. I choose not to, mostly because I want to support content creators, and I would rather forgo the content than take it for free.

The reason I buy all my books from Kobo is that I have a Kobo ebook reader, and they store all my purchases so I don’t have to think about it. Could I get better prices and a bigger selection at Amazon? Probably. But when it comes to digital content, I just don’t trust Amazon, and I’m willing to pay a small premium to avoid them.

But to the point above – it’s not exactly the DRM that builds these walls. If I buy a book from Kobo, it just shows up on my reader. If I buy a book from Amazon, I’m not even sure what I have to do. I probably have to download the book then transfer it the reader. I might need special software from Amazon that likely doesn’t work on my Linux laptop. It’s a big hassle. Now, you could make the argument that, in the absence of DRM, this process could be just as easy for books bought anywhere as it is for books bought from Kobo, but I really doubt it would work out that way. Music has been DRM free for the most part for a while now, and as far as I know you can’t do one-click buys from your music player from other vendors.

Infinite goods want to be DRM-free!

I’ve gotten into a little discussion on DRM and ebooks over at Feedbooks. If you’re interested in potential business models for authors in a world of infinite goods, hop on over there and join the discussion. Especially if you can contribute more than me (That is, if you can do more than parrot what you read on Techdirt).