The Used-MP3 Marketplace: It’s Not A Joke Anymore

One of the running gags those of us who follow the music world for a living has had focused on the idea of the used-MP3 store. “Ha ha!” we laughed. “This is when we know that people are really trying to make money off anything on the Internet, and when we all close up shop and learn a trade.” Well, my friends, I give you Bopaboo, which, while cloaked in a ready-to-carry-yuppie-babies name, offers those people who want it “an online marketplace that allows you to legally transfer and resale digital music.” “Legally,” huh?

So they claim, because, you see, when you upload an MP3 for “sale” on Bopaboo, the only thing that can be downloaded is the very item you uploaded—it isn’t being seeded and copied for all the world to take back, and it’s presumably made unavailable once someone purchases their MP3 of choice. Each digital file costs around 50 cents—about half of what it would on iTunes. And hey, used CD sales are legal, so isn’t the one-for-one buy-for-sell idea still kosher? Something tells me that once the record labels get wind of this idea, they’re not going to be as fond of it as the Bopaboo founders think. Especially since I’m guessing that uploading a file to Bopaboo’s servers doesn’t necessarily mean that the file is magically deleted from your hard drive.

But at least they’re hiring, which just goes to show you: Naive optimism can still take you a long, long way!

Bopaboo [Official site via yvynyl]

  • Anonymous

    Gayest name ever.

  • 10:02am

    At first glance, I thought this was another post about Bonnaroo. We need a logo revolution here, stuff is starting to look the saaaaaaaaame. And the name itself… if you want people to use your service, you should probably pick a name that people are willing to say out loud.

  • westartedthis

    i didn’t see an advertisement for “Vice President of Being the Stooge Who Takes the Hardest Fall When the RIAA Shuts This Place Down and Sues the Hell Out of Us All”, but i’m gonna go ahead and send my resume/cover letter anyway.

  • Audif Jackson Winters III

    It’s actually a really interesting legal question. What constitutes a chattel? The owner of a chattel — such as a CD — generally has a legal right to transfer the chattel by selling it to a third party. The only thing copyright holders can really do to subvert that process is some kind of Garth Brooks in the mid 90s-style secondary boycott.

    But in the case of an item that only exists digitally, what, if anything, constitutes a chattel? All the copies have the same digital information. How can you prove that the reseller is transferring the same digital copy, if that’s even possible?

  • Ned Raggett

    Oh my god, and I had thought I was joking about the idea.

    Well, this’ll be interesting.

  • Captain Wrong

    Mark my words: the big content providers will claim you’re not actually buying anything except a non-transferable license when you pay for an mp3. This is the kind of thinking software companies have tried to prevent used sales of old PC games and whatnot.

  • Anonymous

    Who funded this ridiculous idea, and where can I meet them? I could use some extra cash….

  • Halfwit

    @Captain Wrong: @Audif Jackson Winters III: I think that the bigger issue here is that you are, inherently, selling off copies of the original product. While you have the legal right to transfer chattel, inherent in that is that you’re actually TRANSFERRING the chattel. There’s a net-zero ownership regime.

    If you’re trying to profit off of that resale of products that you don’t actually lose the right to, I imagine that even the staunchest copyfighters would have difficulty in submitting the amicus brief.

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