Publishers all over Europe have been fighting Tom Kabinet since 2014 and the European Court of Justice has issued a ruling, reselling used ebooks is illegal. It is basically a violation of copyright law. Tom Kabinet stated that the first sale doctrine should apply to ebooks and users should be able to do whatever they want with them, after they are legitimately purchased.
In 2014, Tom Kabinet launched a website where second-hand e-books could be sold. Publishers immediately filed a lawsuit and sent numerous cease and desist letters against the company. In 2015, the judge in The Hague ruled that reselling was allowed in principle, but that the seller had to be able to prove that the ebooks were legally purchased, instead of downloaded from the internet or stripped the DRM. Tom Kabinet then changed its website: sellers had to be able to submit the download link for the book. However, this could not guarantee that sellers had removed their own copies. Now customers must submit the original download link and delete their own copy. In exchange for the ebooks they receive credits, which they can exchange on the site for other e-books.
Tom Kabinet believes they are in the right and is taking the case all of the way to the Court of Justice in The Hague. The ruling of the European Court ruling will be taking into account, but next year we should have a ruling by the highest form of law in the EU and should finally put to rest if reselling ebooks is legal or not, and the decision will affect the entire digital publishing landscape.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.