According to an article in Billboard, new laws passed in Florida and Utah would require used CD stores to comply with an onerous set of policies, effectively restricting the resale of secondhand music:
“In Florida, the new legislation requires all stores buying second-hand merchandise for resale to apply for a permit, would be required to thumb-print CD sellers and get a copy of their state-issued identity documents, such as a driver’s license. Furthermore, stores could only issue store credit — not pay cash — in exchange for traded CDs, and then would be required to hold them for a 30-day period, before re-selling them.”
There’s apparently similar legislation under consideration in Rhode Island.
While these laws are intended to crack down on pawnbrokers, they make a mockery of the American right of first sale, which allows consumers to freely resell purchased copies of copyrighted materials (e.g. books, CDs). I’d be furious if I had to be thumbprinted before selling an old CD to a local music store.
I tracked down the new Utah legislation (H.B. 402). Although the final text of the law exempts booksellers and individuals selling personal property online, it’s not clear to me why those distinctions exist (are used bookstores and used music stores fundamentally different?), and whether the distinctions will remain in similar legislation.
According to the Billboard article, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) is working on the issue. The music industry isn’t exactly a friend of consumer rights, but industry groups don’t need to be inherently self-serving or self-protective; for example, we’re proud to be members of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, which presents a united industry voice opposing various forms of censorship, taking sometimes-unpopular stands on behalf of readers’ rights.
Somewhat along the same lines, I’d love to see the emergence of a nonpartisan watchdog group focused on the right of first sale, working to protect consumers’ fundamental right to share, sell, or trade what they own. Companies like eBay and Amazon have made fortunes from the resale of copyrighted works; they should be first in line to protect our rights with their lobbying dollars.Posted by Anirvan