Two weeks ago a Manhattan court delivered a decision that could have a chilling effect on re-sales of digital music files by "third parties." Capital records successfully sued ReDigi for copyright infringement for reselling "pre-owned" digital music.
ReDigi claimed that they didn't actually sell music, but merely provided a marketplace that allowed users to sell directly to other users. ReDgi also claimed that upon sales, the source tracks were deleted from their servers so no additional digital copies were created. But in his 18-page decision U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan concluded that ReDigi ""infringes Capitol's reproduction rights under any description of technology."
This most likely won't be that last legal word on selling digital files. According to an article in Tonedeaf, "Earlier this year, Amazon acquired a patent for an online mechanism which allows a customer to sell or transfer digital goods from the store; this will include E-books, MP3 songs and digital videos which usually cannot be resold once used. Meanwhile, Apple has applied for a patent covering a similar system..." With these two giants watching and waiting for a legal way to sell pre-owned digital music, there's still hope that soon there may be a legally correct way to sell "pre-owned" files someday. But for right now I wouldn't even think of trying to sell your old Mac Mini music server with your music files still intact in its hard drive..
And anyone out there who's been copying their LPs to digital - I would strongly advise against making your finished work publically-available, no matter how long out-of-print the original vinyl might be. If there was a copyright (which 99% of all commercially-released music has), someone could sue you.
What do I recommend? I'm going to sit tight and wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I plan to keep doing what I've been doing - buying CDs and ripping them into my digital music system and purchasing High-Rez music files from HD Tracks for direct importation to my digital music systems.
Given the current legal quagmire, it's going to be a while before the legalities of "selling" digital music files gets sorted out. As things stand right now, transferring "ownership" of digital music files is not something I'd want to try. Until a higher court comes forward with a different legal finding, that's the only safe thing to do.