eBay mutes iTunes song auction

eBay on Thursday canceled an auction that sought to resell a music download that was purchased through Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, saying the attempted sale violated its listing policies. The move for now brings to an end a quirky effort to dramatize some of the less obvious effects of the music industry's shift from physical media sales to digital downloads--in this case the still unresolved question of whether Internet customers can resell songs they've purchased in digital form.

Web developer George Hotelling had put the song up for auction Tuesday evening, hoping to highlight the problem. "eBay shutting down the auction for violating its terms of service doesn't have much to do with the original question of whether people can transfer legally purchased music downloads," Hotelling said in an interview Thursday. Under the "First Sale" doctrine, the owner of a lawful copy of a work is allowed to sell it without the permission of the copyright owner. But such a policy could cause complications if applied to works sold only in digital form.

In launching the iTunes store in April, Apple CEO Steve Jobs proclaimed that consumers don't want to rent music but rather own it. But restrictions on resale, if they are enforced, would seem to suggest more of a rental model than an ownership model. Apple declined to comment.

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News source: news.com

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