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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 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

  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2012 @02:18PM (#41790401)

    Actually, it's the "authoritarian agenda" that wants the Constitution to be treated like the Bible -- that is, as the revealed word of God, which admits of no interpretation but must be slavishly followed in the most literal way possible. Daddy is never wrong, and Daddy has foreseen all things in advance, so you shouldn't need to do any thinking for yourself.

    Like Biblical literalism (which is fundamentally blasphemous -- it's the rough equivalent of giving a big middle-finger to Jesus and his ideals), the strict-interpretation zealots are utterly betraying the wishes of our Founding Fathers. They were both pragmatic and idealistic, willing to question anything and more than aware that the ground is always shifting under everyone's feet. They had nothing in common with those dull-witted, crushingly pedantic souls who would say things like "the Constitution admits very few interpretations".

    The Constitution may be a work of genius, but like every law that has ever been written or will ever be, it absolutely requires exegesis. If a law doesn't require interpretation, it's almost certain to be either unjust by design, or so micromanagerial that it imposes tyranny simply by dint of its complexity.

  • 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 turbidostato (878842) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @08:14AM (#41795609)

    ""Well Regulated" as in well trained or well disciplined."

    That's your opinion on the meaning.

    "Well Regulated" as in with proper regulations as to fulfill its goal, I'd say. Why your interpretation should be better considered than mine? (and don't even start on what "its goal" is, because it opens another can of worms, i.e., since an obvious goal is "the security of a free State", a well regulated militia needs to be able to stand against anything not being the State that might risk its security, i.e. the Federal Government, and since the Federal Government owns nukes, so the "well regulated militia" and thus any given well regulated group of free citizens has the undeniable right to own nukes to stand against this potential enemy).

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"