Cooling-Off & Secondary Markets: Consumer Choice in the Digital Domain

38 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2009 Last revised: 31 Jan 2014

See all articles by Michael Mattioli

Michael Mattioli

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2009


This article studies the law and economics of cooling-off periods and secondary markets for online media. The discussion is fueled by a current debate: In July 2009, the online retail juggernaut,, remotely deleted literary classics from consumers’ portable “Kindle” reading devices. The public outcry and class-action lawsuit that followed have reinvigorated an ongoing debate about how much control digital media distributors should wield. Pundits and plaintiffs argue that too often, digital distributors like Amazon impair consumer freedom by misusing Digital Rights Management (DRM) software systems. However, these same systems could also provide significant benefits that have largely gone ignored. This article argues that, with the help of DRM, lawmakers could provide for cooling-off periods and nurture secondary markets for downloaded media that would benefit consumers, copyright holders, and digital distributors.

Keywords: Cooling-Off, Cooling off, Secondary Markets, Digital Resale, Digital Returns, Digital First Sale, Kindle, Amazon Kindle, DRM, Digital Rights Management

JEL Classification: D23, K11, K00

Suggested Citation

Mattioli, Michael, Cooling-Off & Secondary Markets: Consumer Choice in the Digital Domain (October 1, 2009). Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 15, No. 227, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Mattioli (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States


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