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Apple's digital content resale and loan system could allow DRM transfers between end users

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published details of an exhaustive Apple invention covering the resale and loan of owned digital content like e-books, music and movies, possibly portending an upcoming addition to iTunes.

The patent is outlined in three divisional applications, each titled "Managing access to digital content items," with two filed in September of 2011, and one in June of 2012. From the most recent filing, Apple describes a system that manages the authorized transfer of owned digital content between end-users. The invention is basically a system that allows purchasers to sell or loan "used" content to other people.

Resale Patent
Source: USPTO


Interestingly, Amazon was recently granted a patent for a nearly identical system, though the online retailer's solution calls for a centralized marketplace while Apple's is largely distributed. Amazon first filed for its property in 2009.

Apple's filing provides for the authorized access to digital content, otherwise known as digital rights, to be transferred from one user to another. As an example, a first user may purchase an e-book from the iBookstore and later decide to sell that content to a second user. The original owner notifies the store that they want to sell the item, and if certain criteria are met, the user is allowed to transfer rights to the second buyer. Content itself may or may not change hands, but more importantly the rights attached to said content is managed so that the first user can no longer access the content once it is sold.

The invention decentralizes the process by taking the online store out of the equation:

Alternatively, instead of a third party determining whether one or more criteria are satisfied, the first (or second) user's device makes the determination and may be responsible for preventing the first user's device from further consuming the digital content item. In some embodiments, the online store and/or the publisher of the digital content item may receive a portion of the proceeds of the transfer.


It should be noted that the content need not reside permanently, or at all, on a user's device, meaning the system can be cloud based.

Key to the system's operation is ownership history. As the "used" content is passed from one user to the next, a database is established so that the proper owner is allowed access to the item and can then choose to transfer those rights to yet another party.

Transferral of authorized access can be device-to-device through an intermediary like an online store, device-to-device without an intermediary, meaning verification must be established at a later time. In another embodiment, no device-to-device transfer is necessary.

Resale Patent


Restrictions of transfer are a means to manage the flow of content between end users and can be set by the publisher. For example, a certain e-book may not be resold within a six month period and must have a resale price of at least $5. The restrictions can be set on a timed basis, frequency of transfer, price and to whom the content is sold.

Proceeds are also discussed, with publishers or content makers sometimes granted rights to a portion of the resale value. These percentages are based on time and how many transfers have been completed for a particular item. Gifting is also supported, with proceeds for these transfers split between the end user and publisher.

Other embodiments deal with temporary transfers, partial transfers, delayed transfers and loans.

Eliza C. Block and Marcel Van Os are credited as inventors of all three applications, while E. Caroline F. Cranfill, Alan C. Cannistraro, William M. Bachman and Timothy B. Martin were added to the list for one of the 2011 filings.
post #2 of 17
It would be nice is this brought with it the opportunity to effectively merge multiple AppleIDs into a single purchase history.
post #3 of 17
I would strongly concur. Through the confusion on a Apple account name and iTunes account I ended up with two iTunes accounts with and without email extension. This would allow me to merge them. In fact, it could help my wife and I the same way. When we did everything on the Mac this was manageable, but now with iCloud and Macs, iPhones, iPods, and iPads this is a real pain.
post #4 of 17
How much will the transfer fee be?
post #5 of 17

I like this idea. It'd be awesome if we could loan our iBooks to our friends and family

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyb0731 View Post

I like this idea. It'd be awesome if we could loan our iBooks to our friends and family

 

Or resell books -- especially digital textbooks!

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post #7 of 17
Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post
How much will the transfer fee be?

 

$50 per song. lol.gif

Originally posted by Marvin

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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by limeymick View Post

It would be nice is this brought with it the opportunity to effectively merge multiple AppleIDs into a single purchase history.

 

Yep. And I do hope it happens soon. I have a bunch of stuff on two separate IDs that I'd love to merge. 

 

And this could be a solution for families where they buy the kids school stuff on mom's id because junior is too young to have his own Id but then want to separate it out when he is old enough.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #9 of 17
Frankly, I'd even be ok with creators of content continuing to receive a small royalty off of resale of their work. Not the same for publishers and labels tho'... after the initial sale, their contribution is done.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyb0731 View Post

I like this idea. It'd be awesome if we could loan our iBooks to our friends and family

I, agree it would be good with limitations, I have often been loaned books and if I have enjoyed it gone on to buy other books from the same author. I guess most of us have.

 

Part of the joy or finishing a good book used to be passing it on to someone else who I thought might enjoy it or taking it down to the local charity shop if I couldn't recommend it. Either way I hoped that I had done someone a good turn and introduced an author to someone else.

 

Although I find it very convenient to read on the iPad and a god send living in China where the availability of a wide range of printed English books is hard to access I sometimes wish I could share or loan the occasional book.

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post

How much will the transfer fee be?

 

They didn't say. Sounds like we might decide that. 

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

They didn't say. Sounds like we might decide that. 

I guess ,just as long they get their normal 30%.
post #13 of 17
This could be a huge win for users if it allows transfer of digital assets to family after death of the original owner.
post #14 of 17
To me this patent should not be approved on the simple basis that its no different then what a Library does, no different that what you can do with your Kindle. Its a loan or transfer of goods, sure digital vs physical but its a slippery slope to be allowing patents on. Something ideas should be open.
post #15 of 17

I have always liked how you can loan a Kindle Book to a friend.   This could be a good thing...

post #16 of 17
Maybe this opens the door for Pr0n. It would drive marketshare upward regardless of whether anyone wants to admit it or not.
post #17 of 17
Nice idea. But is there any evidence Apple intends to set up such a system?
Perhaps they have patented the idea to prevent others from setting up such a system?

However, at least the patent supports the idea that end user digital rights are transferable. That being the case there are easier ways of transferring digital assets.
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