Thursday, March 7, 2013

Apple Patent Found for Re-Selling Digital Files

Possibly the last barrier to an all digital content distribution future is the fact you cannot re-sell the music/game/film in digital format.  That might be about to change.  It's surfaced over the last couple of days that Apple filed a patent last year for methods on how to transfer ownership of digital files from one user to another.

The basic principle is that any content you've purchased is digitally assigned to your ID/account.  If you decide you want to sell that content to someone else you can do by submitting a relinquish request to the original content provider (assume Apple) who will transfer access rights information for the file to the new owner.  Your access rights to that file are blocked, with this being done by the content provider directly, or determined by the device itself.

There are quite a few interesting points listed in the patent:

  • There are ways of advertising the sale of the content that include word of mouth, online advertising and text messaging.
  • Payment between seller and buyer is discussed, but throws in the option that the original content seller, artist or publisher (or all of them) are entitled to a cut of the sale of the 2nd hand content (and further re-sales).
  • There is a possibility of transferring content by connecting two devices when away from an internet connection which lets the device manage the digital rights access for both parties.  Alternatively, there's a method described for sending messages between devices that will allow both parties to access the files until an internet connection is established.
  • Restrictions can be placed on digital files for who the content can be transferred to, how much it can be sold for, and when it can be sold.

I like the concept of being able to transfer digital content, whether that is selling a movie on, gifting a game to someone, or (like Bruce Willis tried) leaving your entire music collection to someone in your will.  This could be the starting point for this, but there's the talk of a lot of control from the creators and original sellers over price, royalty and usage which might mean you never feel like you truly own the media.  What do you think?

Matt Holt - Tech Fixation Editor


  1. I love the idea of downloading a movie to your phone or tablet, watching it during the commute and then giving it someone at work via bump with all the rights management going on behind the scenes!