Legal to sell MP3 player with music?
May 12, 2005 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Would it be legal to sell an MP3 player already full of music?

I'm thinking that could be an added incentive on something like Ebay. You could even let the buyer pick what he/she wants on it from a list of what you have.
posted by gottabefunky to Law & Government (18 answers total)
 
Yes, it's copyright infringement. If you really want to sell a pre-loaded MP3 player, why not load it up with tracks that are free to distribute?
posted by nathan_teske at 4:40 PM on May 12, 2005


Did you buy that music, or steal it?
posted by caddis at 4:43 PM on May 12, 2005


nathan_teske: Yes, it's copyright infringement.

If the original owner bought the music, wouldn't it be just like selling old CDs with a disk changer?
posted by rhapsodie at 4:47 PM on May 12, 2005


Rhapsodie - In that case you lose access to the music: you're selling the CDs so you can't listen to them anymore. I'm just assuming the poster either downloaded the tracks or ripped them off of their own CDs.

I'm not arguing if it's "ok" or not, I'm just saying it's not legal.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:51 PM on May 12, 2005


Even if it were technically legal for some reason, you'd likely have your ebay listing removed, and possibly incur the wrath of RIAA/whoever and legal fees to defend your case. Hell, there was a kid who tried to sell an unopened copy of Microsoft Office on e-bay and still he got sued for it, despite the action being completely legal.
posted by odinsdream at 4:57 PM on May 12, 2005


If it's copyrighted music and you're not giving away the original purchased CDs along with the MP3 player, it's definitely against the law.
posted by waxpancake at 5:00 PM on May 12, 2005


I think that, technically, selling the player with the songs wouldn't be copyright infringement -- it would be like giving CDs to someone. By the current standards, keeping the CDs or original sources would be the bad thing. That's assuming you had bought the license to listen to the songs to begin with.
posted by ontic at 5:00 PM on May 12, 2005


This is related to selling a computer on eBay and loading it up with software first. If you don't enclose the disks along with the laptop, you can get in trouble. I have done this, but I always use a disclaimer: "software is pre-installed but licenses to use it are not included."
posted by scarabic at 5:31 PM on May 12, 2005


Yes, it's illegal.

Yes, it's done all the time on eBay. (Doesn't mean many people haven't been caught and had their auctions killed or accounts suspended.)

Usually when I see such auctions they say things like "I can't figure out how to get the songs off!" and shit like that. I have seen auctions where people list the songs/books on the iPod but I have never seen one where people say, "You can pick from my collection." I would suspect that wording like that would get you in deep shit if spotted by the wrong person.

I myself have an iPod up on eBay now (and have sold others in the past) and people always email and ask if the songs are included so I imagine it's expected by many buyers, which is very annoying.

I have also bought 3 iPods on eBay and none came with music so it goes both ways.
posted by dobbs at 5:47 PM on May 12, 2005


Yes, it's illegal.

Do you have the citation for that?
posted by mlis at 6:27 PM on May 12, 2005


I think that, technically, selling the player with the songs wouldn't be copyright infringement -- it would be like giving CDs to someone. By the current standards, keeping the CDs or original sources would be the bad thing. That's assuming you had bought the license to listen to the songs to begin with.

This leads to one of two possibilities, one of which is hard to prove, and the other.. hard to engineer:

1. You ripped CDs to an MP3 player then destroyed the CDs. Hard to prove.

2. You bought all the tracks from the iTunes Music Store (or similar). Very hard to engineer a transfer, however, as you'd potentially need to give the other person your login and password to authenticate when they pull them to their machine.
posted by wackybrit at 8:23 PM on May 12, 2005


I once tried to sell a bunch of audio cassettes on ebay (unopened albums) and as an incentive offered to burn to CD the audio if the buyer used "But it Now" for like a buck extra.

Somebody reported this as "copyright infringement" and all my auctions (50+) were yanked.

I'm not saying yours will get yanked....it just wouldn't surprise me if it did...
posted by achmorrison at 9:53 PM on May 12, 2005


Talk to RevGeorge. He's the one who got acclaim through reselling iTunes songs on Ebay.com. He's up on all that IP/First Sale law.
posted by klangklangston at 6:36 AM on May 13, 2005


Did you buy that music, or steal it?

caddis: There's a third option, if someone downloaded it from a service like the iTunes Music Store or Yahoo! Music Engine. They have a non-transferrable license to listen to the music, which means that they didn't buy it (no right of first sale that comes with an actual purchase) but they didnt steal it either.
posted by revgeorge at 7:09 AM on May 13, 2005


FWIW--a year ago, I sold a portable CD player on ebay with the added incentive of including a burned CD of music. I did this in all innocence, thinking it was just a cool thing to do--I offered the choice of 3 local bands (Detroit Cobras, Dirtbombs or .Adult :-) as a kind of "thanks from Detroit" thing. Someone bought it, no auctions were yanked, no warnings given--though it could've have gone wrong, I guess.
posted by ibeji at 7:25 AM on May 13, 2005


Also, klangklangston is right, I'm happy to talk to anyone about the eBay/iTunes thing. Just keep in mind that I am not a lawyer.
posted by revgeorge at 7:34 AM on May 13, 2005


By the way, great website, revgeorge.
posted by nobody at 12:32 PM on May 13, 2005


I knew a guy who sold his vinyl collection a long time ago. He recorded them to cassette tape before he did, however. Was he a criminal?

This MP3 question would fall into the shady realm of stuff like "used CDs" at record stores and etc., except for the fact that it's digital, and They're really trying to legislate that realm heavily. (Much like they tried to do back in the day with those good ol' cassette tapes)

In short, these are questions with rapidly evolving answers.
posted by First Post at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2005


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