Second-hand iTunes Song Sucessfully Sold

Despite a setback last week when eBay pulled his auction, George Hotelling has sucessfully sold an iTune song he no longer had any use for.

The track, an AAC-encoded file of a remake of Frankie Smith’s “Double Dutch Bus” (we’ve never heard of it either), was finally sold to his friend, Keith Elder in Michigan for 50 cents.

However, this transaction isn’t as exciting as it could have been – there won’t suddenly be a huge volume of used iTunes being traded legally on the internet: Hotelling had to transfer his entire iTunes account containing the lone tune to Elder.

Hotelling is still not sure if he has violated his iTunes terms of service and, for some inexplicable reason, Apple refuse to answer any of his questions on the issue.

All we’ve heard is: “Apple’s position is that it is impractical, though perhaps within someone’s rights, to sell music purchased online,” from Peter Lowe, Apple’s director of marketing for applications and services.

The original eBay auction was pulled last week after it reached silly amounts of money with eBay stating that it violated its listing policies. We think that might translate as “raised issues far too difficult to even think about”. Hotelling was obviously determined to make his point, and came up with a slightly elaborate way of continuing the sale: he bought a $29.95 prepaid card and then transferred the card to his friend when there was only 50c left on it. Not quite the easy, legal exchange we were hoping for.

In the end “It was a success,” said George Hotelling. “I was able to transfer the song, I documented it, and Apple even said it was probably legal. I think the biggest success was raising the issue in a lot of people’s minds.”

George Hotelling writes about the event

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?