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The Courts Education The Almighty Buck United States

Supreme Court To Hear First Sale Doctrine Case 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-wait-to-hear-what-thomas-has-to-say dept.
Registered Coward v2 writes "The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case to determine how copyright law and the doctrine of first sale applies to copyrighted works bought overseas, then imported to the U.S. and then re-sold. The case involves a foreign student who imported textbooks from Asia and the resold them in the U.S. to help fund his education. He was sued by the publisher, lost, and was ordered to pay $600,000 in damages. Now SCOTUS gets to weigh in on the issue. 'The idea -- upheld by the Supreme Court since 1908 -- is that once a copyright holder legally sells a product initially, the ownership claim is then exhausted, giving the buyer the power to resell, destroy, donate, whatever. It's a limited idea -- involving only a buyer's distribution right, not the power to reproduce that DVD or designer dress for sale. ... The tricky part is whether that first-sale doctrine applies to material both manufactured and first purchased outside the United States. Federal law gives that authority to a purchaser's work "lawfully made under this title." Does "this title" apply to any copyrighted work — whether manufactured all or in part in the United States and around the world?"
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Supreme Court To Hear First Sale Doctrine Case

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  • by skywire (469351) * on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:31AM (#41788959)

    "Great cases like hard cases make bad law. For great cases are called great, not by reason of their importance... but because of some accident of immediate overwhelming interest which appeals to the feelings and distorts the judgment."

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Do they ever make great rulings or do they make rulings out of whim and perhaps tradition? Those quislings and they are if you consider them traitors to the people suck up to government and corporations and do so time and time again.

      It is getting worse and the document is rotting further. There's such a weight of precedent and wheedling and interpretation that you cannot read the constitution and know what the court might yield.

      We should be able to individually vote to dismiss those priests and if that happ

      • I firmly believe that the founding fathers intended for the constitution to be "as is". Black and White. It means what it says and trying to conjure up a ruling because times change a little bit doesn't give any court the right or power to use a personal interpretation to make a ruling. Why do I believe this? Well they also gave the power to add, remove, amend the constitution through a very lengthy process. This tells me that changing the constitution in any way was very important and it was not meant to b
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:13AM (#41789199)

          The Constituion contains the mechanism for amending it.
          It's not supposed to be done by executive order, a simple majority vote in Congress, or judicial fiat.

          • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Saturday October 27, 2012 @12:12PM (#41789609)

            The Constituion contains the mechanism for amending it. It's not supposed to be done by executive order, a simple majority vote in Congress, or judicial fiat.

            This is not a piece of code, it's a law. Unfortunately it needs to be interpreted and it stops working when it is interpreted badly (maybe it is like interpreted code?)

            You know, like 100 bajilion dollars for downloading 10 songs still has to be interpreted as "cruel and unusual" to be unconstitutional.

            Or like current administration arguing that placing you on a "kill list" is fine because it is "due process", just not judicial, reviewed or in any way transparent. But still "due".

            Or judges accepting that your "documents" can't be searched, but when they are sent by email or stored on your phone, suddenly that doesn't count as "papers" because they are electronic. Similarly, you cannot be search unless a police dog barks at you/your car. Once the dog barks, the constitutional limits are lifted for some reason.

            Or successfully arguing that copyright limits are "limited" as long as they are finite (so "unlimited" is unconstitutional, but extend by 20 years every 20 years is fine)

            Or court accepting that administration can wait a few years until the constitutional review of a detention (Jose Padilla) and then transfer that prisoner from military to civil confinement one day before review and claim that the case is now "moot" since the prisoner is no longer in military confinement.

            I could go on.

        • by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:15AM (#41789219)

          I firmly believe that the founding fathers intended for the constitution to be "as is". Black and White. It means what it says and trying to conjure up a ruling because times change a little bit doesn't give any court the right or power to use a personal interpretation to make a ruling. Why do I believe this? Well they also gave the power to add, remove, amend the constitution through a very lengthy process. This tells me that changing the constitution in any way was very important and it was not meant to be arbitrarily changed at a whim or misinterpreted by someones prejudice. Think about it - technically any judge on any court can say , "well i interpret this to mean that so I am ruling X". That gives too much power to judges and I think most of us here understand that the founders didn't want this..

          You can firmly believe that but you would be wrong. The intentionally made the words vague, ensuring that the courts and your legislators would have to interpret it according to their judgment.

          • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:22AM (#41789283)
            NO - if courts and legislators can interpret it to mean anything they want then thats a dangerous precedent. They can justify, change any law, new or old and that was not want the founders wanted. Currently if you want to change the constitution it requires 2/3 vote in both house and senate then 3/4 of the states must accept the bill before actually changing the constitution. What you are implying is that they would be ok with any court or single person in congress having the power of their own persuasion and personal conviction to arbitrarily make a ruling because of his own interpretation. Pretty soon every judge has their own interpretation and as you might imagine this can lead to overwhelming chaos.
            • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:45AM (#41789439) Homepage

              What you are implying is that they would be ok with any court or single person in congress having the power of their own persuasion and personal conviction to arbitrarily make a ruling because of his own interpretation. Pretty soon every judge has their own interpretation and as you might imagine this can lead to overwhelming chaos.

              And that's exactly right. I don't see the problem here. I do see your misunderstanding, though.

              The founders saw that no single set of laws could apply actual justice to every case. Mitigating circumstances and changing technologies had caused "overwhelming chaos" even 200 years ago. When they laid out the framework for the American government, they separated interpretation from legislation intentionally, so the courts could decide how (or if) the slowly-changing laws could apply to each case. Ideally, every case would follow a completely independent interpretation of the rules. For efficiency, though, American courts often follow precedent if the judges feel the circumstances haven't significantly changed since the precedent was set.

              Every court can have their own opinion, and they very often do. Each state, county, and municipality can have their own interpretations of the law, which should coincide with the community's collective morality. When there's a significant disagreement, the case can be taken to a higher court for a more authoritative judgement, ultimately even arriving at the Supreme Court Of The United States, whose interpretations can override everything else in the nation.

              Despite today's global culture, it is important to remember that humans only naturally compare their behavior to those physically around them. Local groups develop their own morality, and their local laws and customs reflect that. Why should their courts reflect an arbitrary morality from some other group a thousand miles away? We may as well declare tomorrow that America is under strict Muslim rule, and all courts must refer to the Qu'ran for legal guidance.

              • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @12:01PM (#41789553)
                "why should ... a thousand miles away." The framers DID account for that, by making a FEDERAL government, not a national one. The people a thousand miles away have only the enumerated powers, with all other powers reserved to the states and the people. That's how the Constitution avoids having people a thousand miles away make your decisions for you, NOT by having judges make up the law as they go along.
                • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @04:35PM (#41791487)

                  NOT by having judges make up the law as they go along.

                  They can't "make up law" they can just interpret vague, confusing, or contradictory laws. The real problem is that lawmakers intentionally pass unconstitutional laws expecting the judicial "line item veto" for the parts they don't like, as that's easier than changing the law. But the judges can't make new law, the worst they can do is allow bad laws (passed and signed) to stay, or strike down good laws, they can't make something illegal that wasn't included in the law. A judge hearing a custody battle over a pet can't "make up a law" to make gay marriage illegal. That level of insanity is left to the lawmakers.

              • by macs4all (973270)

                We may as well declare tomorrow that America is under strict Muslim rule, and all courts must refer to the Qu'ran for legal guidance.

                Congratulations for invoking the "Muslim Equivalent" to the Godwin Rule.

                IMHO, "interpretation" has far passed over (pun intended) into "Modification". And this is especially a danger when it comes to SCOTUS doing the "interpreting"; because the results of their interpretation are not "local" (as far as the U.S. goes, at least).

            • by pepty (1976012) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @04:01PM (#41791233)
              So what is the "black and white" constitutional definition of an "arm", as used in the 2nd amendment? Why should we believe your particular definition is that which the authors intended?
            • by AK Marc (707885)

              NO - if courts and legislators can interpret it to mean anything they want then thats a dangerous precedent.

              Language *must* be interpreted. Even if not a conscious thought, you take other's words in and decide what you want to take them as. You can't have code without interpretation.

              Pretty soon every judge has their own interpretation and as you might imagine this can lead to overwhelming chaos.

              Yes, that's why "common law" solved that with the higher court rulings applying to lower courts, and lower courts non-bindingly applying to peer courts.

        • by turbidostato (878842) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:55AM (#41789493)

          "I firmly believe that the founding fathers intended for the constitution to be "as is". Black and White"

          What the hell means "a is"? It is obvious that the text is not so clear that it only admits one interpretation, so what do you really mean?

          Oh, I know: "I firmly believe that the founding fathers intended for the constitution to be as Cutting_Crew reads it".

          • lets talk about what isnt clear to you then? what is so vague that it isnt apparent what the founding fathers meant? I am sure a lot of us can think of privacy being a main issue. Obviously they could not account for technological advances that would dictate an update the constitution to provide citizens the right to privacy, regardless of any technological advances. I agree with that. But judges or the supreme court shouldnt be the ones to interpret the constitution and apply that law to this current day a
          • by Nyder (754090)

            "I firmly believe that the founding fathers intended for the constitution to be "as is". Black and White"

            What the hell means "a is"? It is obvious that the text is not so clear that it only admits one interpretation, so what do you really mean?

            Oh, I know: "I firmly believe that the founding fathers intended for the constitution to be as Cutting_Crew reads it".

            Cutting Crew? "I just died in your arms tonight?" Cutting Crew? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutting_Crew [wikipedia.org]

            They did a reading of the Constitution? Is it out in audio book form? or do they sing it, put in on Youtube and it got a DMCA notice?

        • by Kijori (897770) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ekaj.draw}> on Saturday October 27, 2012 @12:28PM (#41789697)

          You have to understand that there is no way for the constitution to be "as is". No-one - including constitutional originalists - thinks that that is possible. The process of interpretation necessarily involves information that does not come from the constitutional document itself, and that is a role of judges - to interpret the statute in order to determine what it means in a limitless array of situations. Far from being a criticism your statement "well I interpret this to mean that so I am ruling X" is in fact the right and proper function of a judge.

          The opposing view to the living document school of thought is not that no information external to the document can be used; that idea is intellectually moribund, as is apparent the moment you attempt the exercise. The opposing view is constitutional originalism, which looks outside the document just as much as do living-document jurists. The difference is where they look: instead of looking at the prevailing circumstances today and what the meaning of the words would be if enacted today they look at the circumstances at the time of enactment and what (in the judge's interpretation, for the judge is interpreting things just as much here) the words would have meant at the time. It is important to bear in mind that this does not normally have anything to do with what the authors of the constitution wanted the constitution to say or meant for it to say. The question is what it would generally have been understood to have meant at the time.

          Personally I tend to lean toward a constitutional originalist view. It must be accepted, however, that there are considerable problems with it. The living document school grew up in large part because a constitution interpreted in line with the values that were held 200 years ago is often irrelevant or useless. Advances in technology mean that checks on privacy interpreted as they were understood in the 18th century can be completely impotent. Similarly a clause guaranteeing due process is of little comfort if all it guarantees is the quality of due process that was accepted in 1790. There is also to my mind a clear contradiction in the commonly held position that in relation to rights the constitution grants nothing that would not have been expected in the eighteenth century, but that the second amendment grants the right to own any weapon whenever devised.

          • It is important to bear in mind that this does not normally have anything to do with what the authors of the constitution wanted the constitution to say or meant for it to say. The question is what it would generally have been understood to have meant at the time.

            It depends on whom you ask. Some scholars try to draw distinctions between "originalism" and "textualism." While these terms aren't consistently used in the literature (as far as I can tell), the common distinction made is that "textualism" is about the original text (i.e., what the plain meaning of the words is, particularly around the time of the drafting of the law), while "originalism" is centered on the original legislative intent of the statute. Some approaches may emphasize the meaning of the text

      • You are proposing that an ignorant mob should kill Supreme Court Justices. Why don't you say so directly instead of using all the fancy verbiage?
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Unfortunately, the Supreme Court will probably uphold the lower court's judgment, not because they think the law is just, but because they will agree that the lower court was right about what the law IS. It's a stupid law and you might even see that expressed in the opinion, but they'll probably say that it's not their job to decide whether the law is stupid or unjust.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:28AM (#41789329) Homepage

        ...they'll probably say that it's not their job to decide whether the law is stupid or unjust.

        And it isn't. The legislature makes the law, and the courts just figure out how it applies to each case.

      • Bang.

        This is the point that is often overlooked.

        Here's Conneticut vs Fourntin -
        http://womenriseupnow.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/state-of-connecticut-v-fourtin/ [wordpress.com]

        Everyone is screaming "travesty" - I am digging around trying to find the awful case that results if the ruling went the other way.

        However Slashdot threads are only good for 2 days anyway so I won't find it before everyone leaves anyway.

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        Unfortunately, the Supreme Court will probably uphold the lower court's judgment,

        Ah, between Citizen United, the binding arbitration clause (I forget the name) and this case, aren't we "the people" screwed?
        Soon, we'll just receive pamphlets from corporations that have 51% shares in our local city and follow these instead of any government laws...

  • As if EULA on software wasn't bad enough...
    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Well for SW it's claimed it's a licence, thus you cannot resell the licence.

      Of course it too has certain protections and if those are to the benefit to the consumer then it's switched around to say it's a normal purchase.

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:41AM (#41789009) Journal

    If first sale is held not to apply to goods manufactured outside the United States, every product we buy will be accompanied by a non transferable shrink wrap license,

    • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:50AM (#41789057) Journal
      It's about being manufactured and sold outside the US. Whether a product licensed and sold in another country needs explicit permission to be resold in the US. Once it is legally sold in the US, first sale rights apply to the purchaser.
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Then comes the definition of "sold". Do the manufacturers "sell" the product to the distributors? Is that "sale" outside the US? It is about multinational companies creating local monopolies through licensing.

        Another point to ponder is the question of legality. Is contravening a license breaking the law? I seem to remember a EULA case where breaking a license was a tort offence not a criminal one. They are two different things. It would seem that by law the books could be sold in the US but by contract they

    • everyone jsut stop buying hondas and watch the tides turn.
    • If "First Sale" does not apply then how the hell can a Store who bought the property sell it to consumers? Hmm? Oh, sure some stores have direct permission from the manufacturers, but What about Amazon? What about the mom-and pop corner store that buys many of their goods from big-box stores and sells at a higher price in trade for convenience? Garage sales?

      IMO, The "ownership" of any matter or idea or other energy configuration is terminated when it leaves your possession or head. If you don't want

      • If "First Sale" does not apply then how the hell can a Store who bought the property sell it to consumers? Hmm? Oh, sure some stores have direct permission from the manufacturers, but What about Amazon? What about the mom-and pop corner store that buys many of their goods from big-box stores and sells at a higher price in trade for convenience? Garage sales?

        The wholesaler grants a onetime non-transferable license to sell the product, and the included end user license. Violation of the terms of such license

    • The doctrine was first recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1908 (see Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus) and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. 109. In the Bobbs-Merrill case, the publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, had inserted a notice in its books that any retail sale at a price under $1.00 would constitute an infringement of its copyright. The defendants, who owned Macy's department store, disregarded the notice and sold the books at a lower price without Bobbs-Merrill's consent. The Supreme Court held that the exclusive statutory right to "vend" applied only to the first sale of the copyrighted work.

      Shrink wrap licenses are the whole point of First Sale. Once an object is sold to you the owner loses all rights to it. Any papers included with the object become void.

  • by For a Free Internet (1594621) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:42AM (#41789011)

    All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.

    The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favour of bourgeois property.

    The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.

    In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.

    We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.

    Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.

    Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property?

    But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labour. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism.

    To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.

    Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power.

    When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.

    Let us now take wage-labour.

    The average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer. What, therefore, the wage-labourer appropriates by means of his labour, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it.

    In bourgeois society, living labour is but a means to increase accumulated labour. In Communist society, accumulated labour is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the labourer.

    In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.

    And the abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.

    By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying.

    But if selling and buying disappears, free selling and buying disappears also

    • by Gryle (933382)
      I can't tell if you're serious or just an exquisite troll.
    • by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @12:52PM (#41789833) Homepage

      Slashdot is upvoting the Communist Manifesto? That's unexpected.

      (funnily enough, the marxists.org page, which hosts the Manifesto, claims copyright over the document! It's probably over the translation, but still hilariously hypocrite)

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.

      American property law acknowledges precedents that stretch back into the middle ages. This isn't France where they declare a new Constitution every 3 years.

      Americans at large buy too much into the notion fed to us by our public schools that American history doesn't extend back much further than 1776. This isn't the case at all.

      It takes a long time for democracy to ge

  • I think the case is ridiculous, but courts are famously lacking in common sense sometimes. If the defendant loses, I wonder if one of the unintended consequences would be to spur more sales of products 'Made In The USA'.
  • Easy answer.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brxndxn (461473) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:52AM (#41789075)

    Yes, first sale doctrine applies in this case. It's a no-brainer. Nobody here or in the court will be thinking about whether or not the foreign student stole the textbooks - because he did not. Nobody is accusing him of copying. Nobody is saying the items are counterfeit. The whole point of this case will be to try to figure out a tricky legal way to accuse the student of stealing. That is the only reason for debate. The 'under this title' part of the reasoning for debate is moot anyway since the law is meant to be applied equally - and equal application would mean 'lawfully made under this title' when the law agrees in both governing states (which is not even being argued.)

    The doctrine of first sale is a simple idea and concept - one that can apply easily in courts around the country and the world. The biggest problem we are all worried about is if our corrupt Surpreme Court will once again come up with complicated 'reasoning' to decide yet another case where the big corporation beats the young entrepreneur. If I want to copyright my apples and sell them for 1 penny in China and $3000 in Canada, why should I have any further control over the people in China realizing my ridiculous pricing? Free market capitalism and globalism needs to go both ways. If a corporation is free to charge different prices, the consumers or middle men should be free to resell them - until the price points meet market demands.

    What the Supreme Court should do is morally, lawfully, and reasonably easy to decide. What they will do is a big fucking can of worms because of the current move toward corporatism.

    • Re:Easy answer.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by popo (107611) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:23AM (#41789297) Homepage

      > " If I want to copyright my apples and sell them for 1 penny in China and $3000 in Canada, why should I have any further control over the people in China realizing my ridiculous pricing?"

      Actually, the more compelling question is: Why would citizens of Canada continue to stay in Canada (or any other top-tier priced nation) where they are clearly being en-serfed under such policies.

      The evidence is growing that the so-called "First World" is for suckers.

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        Actually, the more compelling question is: Why would citizens of Canada continue to stay in Canada (or any other top-tier priced nation)

        Not sure what exactly the question states
        Because you _cannot_ make a first-tier salary while living in a third-tier country? Leave Canada for China and you will be downgraded to an average Chinese salary. Corporations are able to get labor in the third-tier poor countries and sell you stuff at the first-tier prices, since that's where you live.

        But good luck trying to get the reverse and make US salary living in China (or even UK Salary in british pounds while living in US). Globalization was not meant t

        • Globalization has enabled hundreds of millions to people to rise from poverty and many into middle-class, but since those are Chinese and Indonesians and not privileged Americans, they don't count, right?

          The hypocrisy and selfishness disguised as anti-corporativism is disgusting.

          • by Mitreya (579078)

            Globalization has enabled hundreds of millions to people to rise from poverty and many into middle-class, but since those are Chinese and Indonesians and not privileged Americans, they don't count, right?

            hm...? I am not saying "down with globalization" - I am happy for any non-American that rose out of poverty (just as I would be for an American that rose out of poverty) .

            But none of this explains why Australians can't buy a DVD or a game from US at US prices. Let _everyone_ benefit from globalization.

            • You said "Globalization was not meant to benefit peons like us," when in fact it does benefit a lot of "peons". It just doesn't benefit you.

              But none of this explains why Australians can't buy a DVD or a game from US at US prices

              Games cost more because you buy them at those prices, hence retailers and distributors have no incentive to lower them.
              Companies are like children, you can't complain they are lazy and don't do their homework if you reward such behavior.

              Stop paying and they'll drop.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Living in a Foxconn dormitory isn't "middle class".

            Even in the Soviet Union they had higher expectations than that.

            • Never said it was. But many (not most, unfortunately) have already moved up from that level.

              For the majority that hasn't, it still beats the alternative, which is all they would have if it wasn't for the "big bad" globalization.

    • Re:Easy answer.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:24AM (#41789299) Journal
      It's not so simple as you make it out to be. the law states:

      (a) Infringing Importation or Exportation.— [cornell.edu]
      (1) Importation.—
      Importation into the United States, without the authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of copies or phonorecords of a work that have been acquired outside the United States is an infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords under section 106, actionable under section 501.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well, I can sort of see why the law doesn't want to let you go jurisdiction shopping. If US law says any copy legally made under foreign law is equal to one made under US law then you can pick any one of 165+ copyright laws (Berne convention, more if any country) that is most favorable to you. Like in this case, I'm sure what they're worried about is that you can make an online shop and say the manufacture and sale happens outside the US, it is only delivered to the US which circumvents any local law.

      • It seems to me the First Sale doctrine is about consumer rights. When you buy something, it is yours to dispose of any way you like, including reselling. Where you actually bought it should be irrelevant, and this claim that it is seems to me like a perversion of the law.

        Of course you'll want some laws to govern parallel imports and such, but they should be separate laws, like they are in Europe. Here, we have restrictions on importing goods to govern that. You can bring a few copies of a book into t
    • Re:Easy answer.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @12:24PM (#41789671)

      Free market capitalism and globalism needs to go both ways. If a corporation is free to charge different prices, the consumers or middle men should be free to resell them - until the price points meet market demands.

      I would abstract that principle even further. If a corporation is free to move manufacturing overseas where it's cheaper, then likewise people should be free to buy products overseas for cheaper and import them into the U.S. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Purely looking at the law, I'd likely agree with you, but reimportation is more complicated than it appears on the surface.
      Let's establish some givens:
      1. Publishers are out to maximize profits, and
      2. Regional pricing gives greater access to consumers in poorer countries.

      If reimportation were to be fully legal, these US companies, whose greatest profit comes from domestic sales, would be far more likely to raise export prices to match domestic prices and cope with decreased export sales than to depress what

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        2. Regional pricing gives greater access to consumers in poorer countries.

        It also give more access to businesses in poorer countries. Those businesses then use those lower costs to undercut businesses in the USA and hence move more jobs abroad.

      • I think you are ignoring other possible outcomes. One of the reasons to sell books cheaply in foreign markets is to keep local industries from arising in those markets, allowing them to keep control of highly profitable markets. If cheap editions stop being made in Thailand, Thai publishers will arrive and sell at prices Thais can afford, and then sell and eviscerate the competition in the US market, much to the benefit of American students.
  • The first is, if copyright doesn't apply in the US then the copyright holder has no right to prohibit resale.
    If copyright DOES apply in the US and the product was legally obtained (regardless of location) then the original copyright holder should again have NO right to prohibit resale, applying the first sale doctrine.

    Where this gets interesting is, will this ruling apply to ANYTHING manufactured overseas that has any type of copyright, such as computing devices and automobiles? Imagine not being able to
    • by rnturn (11092)

      "Imagine not being able to sell your 4-5 year old car to buy a newer model. How will this ruling apply to things such as the secondary market for used CDs (many of which are imported)?"

      There is a possibility that can SCOTUS rules that individuals have no rights to sell anything used. Think that won't happen? Well, the Citizen's United case was much more narrowly defined than what eventually came out of the Roberts court. One can only hope that, if they rule that way, Congress will wake up and set things

    • "Do what thou wilt"

      So they can do whatever they want. Thread over.

  • Crap like this, no wonder we have angry armed mobs in front of our embassies. This was not only a wrongheaded suit but obnoxious in application. If the publishers want to discriminate regionally, then they should bear the burden of regional versions (less desirable in US, at least for textbooks). Trampling our US first sale rights isn't going to be acceptable. Crucifying some little entrepreneur like that with bogus double dipping "corporate rights", no wonder the US has endless enemies.
  • textbooks are about profit and changing them very fast

  • You can't declare that ownership laws in another country apply to you when they protect you (e.g. copyright law) and at the same time declare that they don't apply to you when they protect someone else. This would be a slam-dunk case if not for certain Supreme Court Justices who can't help but give big slobbery kisses to any corporation that gives them the time of day.

    Rob

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:21AM (#41789273)

    ban professors from ripping pages out of books to get a grade or forcing you to buy the book + online tests. make that you only can pay a small fee to cover the costs of on line testing / homework system with a price cap.

    also force professors to let you use old editions as most of them are the same other then moving stuff around and different questions. And some classes don't even need the books at all.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @11:22AM (#41789287) Homepage
    ...is not "Should the first sale doctrine apply to imported books". It is "Does the first sale doctrine apply to imported books". I think that we can all agree that it should, but the Court will have to try to figure out whether or not the Congress intended that it should. To do this they will (among other things) inquire into the legislative history of the copyright statute.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's also not "is there an inherent property right to sell one's property, without interference from other people". It's sad and depressing that our freedoms have fallen so low that we have to beg the government kindly to permit us to sell our property.

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        It's sad and depressing that our freedoms have fallen so low that we have to beg the government kindly to permit us to sell our property.

        Our "property" slowly mutates into "temporary leased and highly restricted item".
        Have you tried to sell a DVD in a different country? (region encoding)
        How about reselling a software license?
        A used game? (special one-time use codes)

    • I would contend that the first sale doctrine is not limited to Congress's intentions, since it existed in precedents before it was codified with statutes.
  • I love this quote:

    The whole idea of the copyright laws is to provide people with an incentive to create books, movies, or other works of art. If you take away that incentive, you're not going to have creators out there doing things that give us pleasure or educate us.

    There is always an issue with absolutes like "take away". There is still incentive but perhaps less. Maybe there will be less incentive to make new editions that consist of a few page changes and different examples.

    It would seem that the publisher is quite happy with the cut they get from foreign distribution at lower prices and seem to be making a profit or they would not be doing it. The re-sale restriction just gives local monopolies to licensed publishers so they can demand the maximum

    • by green1 (322787)

      I always hate that part. some of the biggest names in history produced all their work without any form of copyright. Why do people think that if we gave "only" a measly lifetime of protection people would suddenly stop creating?

      It's time to abolish copyright completely. We did fine without it before, we'll do fine without it again.

  • The manufacturers charge high prices in the US because they can get away with it. Forget about books, think about what this could mean to pharmaceuticals or electronics retailing; the US has been subsidizing those products forever.
  • by future assassin (639396) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @01:41PM (#41790131) Homepage

    wrapped in brown paper and with a lock on it. You're only selling the paper that's its written on, the lock protects the written stuff. Not you problem it the buyer breaks the lock after purchase.

    Or if you're selling it why not state I'm selling the paper from this book. Its up to the buyer to not read the copyrighted print.

  • I've bought textbooks from overseas before as they were 1/4 the cost of a one here and nearly identical (paper is cheaper, quality control is non-existent and rarely some chapters/questions are different). The textbook explicitly says not for purchase or resale outside of India (or whatever country).

    He made $37,000 in revenue according to the article -- this isn't just a few books, this is an import business he set up. In this case, the student bought and sold them for profit. This is clearly trying to circ

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