The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Amazon a new patent which broadly allows the company to establish a marketplace for the resale of digital goods including eBooks, computer applications, audio and visual files. Copyright attorneys are already expressing concerns as they begin to interpret the legality and commercial implications of this move.
"Content in a personalized data store may be accessible to the user via transfer such as moving, streaming or download," the patent abstract stated. "When the user no longer desires to retain the right to access the now-used digital content, the user may move the used digital content to another user's personalized data store when permissible and the used digital content is deleted from the originating user's personalized data store."
According to paidContent, the new Amazon patent adds a new layer to an already contentious debate over how the doctrine of first sale may or may not apply to digital marketplaces. Critics insist that electronic content cannot be resold in the same manner as physical goods because there is no way to confirm deletion of the original files after the transaction takes place.
One provision that could be encouraging to copyright holders is Amazon's threshold concept. The company plans to impose a sense of scarcity in the electronic marketplace by suspending or terminating resale rights after a limited number of downloads or transfers has been achieved.