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copyright and reseller law in perpetuity

Copyright Ownership and Selling Online

No Hope

By Lev Six

“Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril” was the headline of a recent Wall Street Journal MarketWatch piece about a little-known Supreme Court case.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons will center on whether or not an individual can buy copyrighted material outside the United States, then resell it inside the US. The first-sale doctrine, established 1908, permits individuals to sell copyrighted products to others. According to the doctrine, the copyright holder only has
control over the first sale. But for products manufactured abroad – which include almost all popular electronics, including those Chinese-made gadgets consumers are so used to swapping annually – this law is being challenged.

Kirtsaeng’s filing asserts that a pro-Wiley ruling would lead to “another level of absurdity that extends beyond the first-sale defense … . All foreign-made products with copyrightable content would hold an exalted place in copyright law … that no product … has ever enjoyed.”

If the Supreme Court chooses to do so, anything that has a Made in China, Japan or Europe sticker on it could cause problems for businesses like pawnshops, the Salvation Army, eBay, Craigslist, and other resale-based organizations. Many garage sales would likely break the law and individuals could face hefty fines for simply selling an old gadget to a friend.

“It means that it’s harder for consumers to buy used products and harder for them to sell them,” Georgetown University Law Center professor Jonathan Band told MarketWatch. “This has huge consumer impact on all consumer groups.”

Selling anything produced overseas, including CDs and DVDs, jewelry, electronics, books or artwork, would only be allowed if the seller pays the copyright holder a portion of the sale.

Such a ban would prove especially troublesome for websites like Craigslist and eBay, which allow people to buy and sell their belongings online.

“It would be absurd to say anything manufactured abroad can’t be bought or sold here,” Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment lawyer, told MarketWatch.

In opposition to the potential change in copyright law, eBay has launched a movement to defend the first-sale doctrine. The online auctioneer has launched “eBay Main Street” – a website dedicated to mobilizing its merchants.

“It is possible that an extreme application of US copyright law might enable manufacturers to force retailers and consumers to first have to obtain permission from the manufacturer before reselling or even donating goods manufactured overseas,” the newly launched website states. “This rule could affect most of the goods we use every day, from books to cell phones.”

cut-up sources
rt.com/usa/news/us-court-copyright-used-reselling-428

articles.marketwatch.com/2012-10-12/finance/34240922_1_copyright-iphone-consumer-groups

triblive.com/opinion/2760175-74/kirtsaeng-wiley-court-case-copyright-ruling-sale-law-supreme-books

[Reposted from Lev’s Facebook page.]

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