Should you have a right to sell your ebooks and digital music?


People can be surprised to discover that they don’t actually own the digital books and songs they buy, but that they instead rent them from large companies like Amazon(s amzn) and Apple(s aapl). In response, Congress is asking whether copyright law should be changed to ensure people can resell or lend out their digital goods.

This week, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from publishing and technology executives as well as public interest groups over whether the government needs to update a long-standing rule known as “first sale” that lets people do what they want with works they lawfully purchased.

The short answer, based on this week’s hearing, appears to be no as members of Congress and those testifying appeared skeptical that people should have the same property rights in digital goods as they do in physical ones. But some suggested that it might be time for companies to do a better job of explaining to consumers about what they are allowed to do with the books and music they…

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