bopaboo: Legal, Chaperoned File Sharing

By December 12, 2008

Music industry minds will be reacting to bopaboo, an online marketplace allowing consumers to legally sell unwanted music and buy DRM-free digital music from other consumers. According to their FAQ, duplicated files are not produced when music is uploaded to be sold. Users can search for music from others by standard parameters (Artist, Album, Song, etc.). The service claims that it brings together consumers and copyright-holders for the first time in a marketplace where both are able to benefit from a legal secondary market for digital music. The selling process is simple for the user: upload files and select sale price. Music is transferred to the buyer, money is transferred to the seller's "bopaBank," minus the usage fee, and can be withdrawn used within the site. With a dedicated user URL, sellers can promote their bopaboo Store on their own Web sites or social networking profiles.

Because of the private beta, many of this writer's questions remain unanswered. Documentation does not cover artist acceptance criteria - if the mission of this site is to assuage peer-to-peer file sharing, does it not accept unsigned artists? if this is the case, a potentially valuable unknown artist resource is left untapped, especially with its flexible pricing. Those artists who find iTunes' ninety-nine cent pricetag limiting might consider twenty-five or fifty-cent pricing ideal.

While bopaboo keeps track of the music files bought and sold by individual users, there is no mention of tracking user honesty. Any solution would create its own problems, with applications or plug-ins capable of verifying that sold music had actually been deleted from the seller's computer. This makes the second part of the site's mission confusing. How exactly does this bring consumers and copyright-holders together? At best, its an iteration of the buy-table at a record store. At worst, its file sharing where the music-holders get paid to share their music.

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas