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Electronic Frontier Foundation Your Rights Online

Defending the First Sale Doctrine 338

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-reading-this-you-agree-not-to-sell-it dept.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation recaps two court cases pending in the U.S. which will decide whether you're allowed to re-sell the things you purchase. The first case deals with items bought in other countries for resale in the U.S., such as textbooks. An unfavorable decision there would mean "anything that is made in a foreign country and contains copies of copyrighted material – from the textbooks at issue in the Kirtsaeng case to shampoo bottles with copyrighted labels – could be blocked from resale, lending, or gifting without the permission of the copyright owner. That would create a nightmare for consumers and businesses, upending used goods markets and undermining what it really means to 'buy' and 'own' physical goods. The ruling also creates a perverse incentive for U.S. businesses to move their manufacturing operations abroad. It is difficult for us to imagine this is the outcome Congress intended." The second case is about whether music purchased on services like iTunes can be resold to other people. "Not only does big content deny that first sale doctrine applies to digital goods, but they are also trying to undermine the first sale rights we do have by forcing users to license items they would rather buy. The copyright industry wants you to "license" all your music, your movies, your games — and lose your rights to sell them or modify them as you see fit."
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Defending the First Sale Doctrine

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  • by spamchang (302052) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @08:49PM (#42391499) Journal

    I guess this applies to used cars as well. Secondary markets alleviate economic inefficiencies in pricing...goodbye free market?

    • by pepty (1976012) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:14PM (#42391857)
      Could we do to copyright what companies do to avoid paying real estate tax in California? In CA, properties aren't reassessed for tax purposes unless they are sold. So companies don't sell real estate, they sell a shell company that technically owns the property. The property never actually changes ownership, so the taxes remain based on its valuation from 1982 or whatever. So we just need a free way to set up a corporation. Have your corporation buy an mp3 or a movie. When you're done with it, sell the corporation for $3. Problem solved.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        If that became popular the media companies would just add a term that the license is for use by a natural person and not valid for a corporation, if they don't already say that.

        • by pepty (1976012)

          If that became popular the media companies would just add a term that the license is for use by a natural person and not valid for a corporation, if they don't already say that.

          So the corporation would have to be formed in a country that recognizes corporations as people ... j/k. It would still work well for software: business application licenses are meant to be owned by one company and used by one person (at a time).

          • by thaylin (555395)
            Not really a joke, here in the US we already recongize the corp as a person, see the citizens united case.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Here in the US we recognize the corporations are collections of people. Citizens United recognized that if congress cannot restrict the rights of a person, then it can't restrict the rights of a collection of people either. And btw, thank god they did that. This is why the Supreme Court is immune to the mob mentality of elections.

      • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:40PM (#42392201) Homepage

        1.) Spend a few hundred $ setting up a corporation.
        2.) Buy an .mp3 under the auspices of said corporation.
        3.) Sell the corporation and rights to the .mp3 for $3
        4.) ???
        5.) PROFIT!

      • The filing fees to create a company are probably a lot more than $3.

      • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @04:41AM (#42393227) Homepage

        So companies don't sell real estate, they sell a shell company that technically owns the property.

        That happened in the UK as well until the government decided that it was wrong and would tax the sales anyway; I think that they also added an extra tax in this case - the practise soon stopped.

    • I guess this applies to *new* books as well: Amazon buys a book from the publisher. You buy it from Amazon. Isn't that the second sale? Why is Amazon allowed to resell what they buy, but you are not??

    • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @02:56AM (#42392893)

      It would also bar car dealerships with that logic as well. How about houses? I mean, would that eliminate the sale of used homes? Does the sale of existing homes ruin the market for new homes? The logic failure of the people arguing against secondary markets is colossal.

      • by khallow (566160)

        The logic failure of the people arguing against secondary markets is colossal.

        But it is worth noting that secondary markets in both cars and housings have been screwed with in recent years. "Cash for clunkers" was a program that bought a bunch of used cars and bricked them. Recently, we saw the selling of gas with ethanol that might damage older cars. And there have been some efforts to keep foreclosed homes from appearing on the market.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @08:55PM (#42391517) Homepage

    This is something that gets to the heart of what copyright is being turned into.

    Initially, copyright is what the name says it is -- the [exclusive] right to make copies for distribution.

    But as we have seen with things like "region coding" and the like, we are seeing attempts at controlling not just who can legally make copies, but who can legally have access to it. Information for one region cannot be legal in another region. In some circles, we call this censorship. In others, we call these trade barriers.

    Big media:

    Go ahead and do your worst. Branding like "DRM Free" and "Independent" have become the new "Organic" and industry labels have become the new "Toxic." Your disrespect of your customers/consumers is increasingly more recognized. Artists all over the world, using home computers and even iPads are creating content which is fun and entertaining. Small projects are becoming bigger projects and they don't involve you. So please. Enlighten the rest of the world by restricting them from having free access to your stuff and the new Organic entertainment out there will replace you.

    • by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:21PM (#42391639) Homepage Journal
      What you say is true to a degree. Electronic music in particular has become so incredibly inexpensive to make that almost anyone who has a desire to make it can easily afford to do so. However, there is a place for big art too, and nobody is going to make The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in their basement.
      • by epyT-R (613989) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:35PM (#42391707)

        There is no reason why actors need millions of dollars for their tradeskills. Perhaps the market just doesn't support that anymore.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Clearly it does.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:50PM (#42392003) Homepage

          Look at the trailer for any modern film. There are literally hundreds of people given credit for the film. There were thousands of computers and tens of thousands of computer hours. Professional digital cameras are anything but inexpensive, even if you rent them.

          Yes, the budgets are inflated but a major movie costs real dollars.

          (Although Monsters is an interesting example of what can be done on a low budget. But it's not LOTR.)

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:21PM (#42391889)

        nobody is going to make The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in their basement.

        15 years ago my band laughed at me when I suggested we record an album by renting a single, very expensive, microphone, and then recording with my computer and layering each track individually saving us nearly 10k. Now, any decent band has their own recording studio that pretty much revolves around a single PC. The recording industry exists at this point for the sole purpose of promotion and that will be gone soon as well. 15 years ago recording a studio quality album in your basement was laughable, and now it's how things are done. The same will happen with video, and as much as the movie industry will kick and scream... they will die. This is the free market, old, inefficient methods of productions, with all it's corporate leaches and middlemen always get traded for more direct methods of production. Eventually the people with the ideas can produce their product directly, and no longer need help. There is no such thing as "Big art", music producers were nothing more than financiers, loaning musicians money with horrendous terms. The same goes for movies and eventually it will be so cheap to produce a movie that the anal rape that movie producers have to go through to get their movie made will be a thing of the past.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          The same goes for movies and eventually it will be so cheap to produce a movie

          While that will happen one day, it will take quite a while. Some good indie movies for example do currently exist, but they frequently piggyback ride on the success of the classic Hollywood industry. None of the Star Wars or Star Trek fan projects would exist when there wouldn't have been a Star Wars or Star Trek in the first place. It's much easier to make a movie when you can recycle costumes, sets and 3D models, then when you have to develop everything from scratch. And even with that recycling, those mo

        • by dywolf (2673597)

          Quite teh opposite. the big studios wont go away because they provide the one service that big films need: organization. they have the financing apparatus, they have the distrubution network, they have the legal team to defend the film, the editors, the post processors, the experts-in-every-little-detail; they have everything all in one place.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        However, there is a place for big art too, and nobody is going to make The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in their basement.

        If everybody who could stop paying for it would stop paying for it, then the piracy rate would be 99%+. To be honest I don't think there's anybody growing up here in Norway today who can't figure out how to use a torrent client unless they're mentally handicapped, the practical risk of getting caught is nil and even if you were the fine wouldn't be the end of the world. Are we seeing a mass death of entertainment artists? No. I have bought the DVD and later the BluRay set of LotR - I've also downloaded them

      • by greenbird (859670)

        nobody is going to make The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in their basement.

        Monsters [slashfilm.com] was made for $15,000. Watch it. It's quite good. Most of the cost for big budget movies is payed to people who aren't really necessary for making the movie and/or are way over payed for what they contribute.

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @02:33AM (#42392807)

        " However, there is a place for big art too, and nobody is going to make The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in their basement."

        And for good reason--as a kid, I wasted an entire summer making The Lord of the Rings in my basement, only to realize that I couldn't fit it up the damned stairs. As a result of this, my first episode of Star Wars (Star Wars: Return of the King) will have a bit of a fantasy element to it.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Look up star wreck. It looks better then original star treck and was done on shoestring budget.

    • by giorgist (1208992)
      I hope they get all they want :-) Their products will get revalued and in the end they will get nothing extra. In the process they are trying to undo all that is the internet. It is a big ask :-) They are merely in a stage of denial. Even if they get all they want, it is unstable and it will be restored
    • by Jessified (1150003) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @01:00AM (#42392505)

      They call it intellectual property, not intellectual licenses. They also say that downloading is stealing (of property?)

      But how does one steal a license?

      If depriving someone of income is a crime, then so should negative reviews on yelp?

      I'm terribly confused. I think it would be more relaxing to teach evolution to a creationist.

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @01:26AM (#42392587)

      Initially, copyright is what the name says it is -- the [exclusive] right to make copies for distribution.

      That died before the Constitution was even written, so it's unrelated to the current legal issues. Copyright concerns "distribution". Though if you look at the Constitution, the current laws aren't even close to following it. "To promote the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings."[edited to remove the patent-specific wording]

      The times indefinitely extended for a limited time is, in practice, not a limited time. And one part I've never seen tested in court, and I think invalidates all current law is that Congress may only grant copyright to the author, and to nobody else. The Constitution, as written, does not recognize sale of copyrights, much like copyright in France and some other places where "author's right" is separate from "copyright"

      • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @03:02AM (#42392931)

        Quite true. The side issue is the relationship to "intellectual property" and "profit." There has been a concerted effort for a while now to claim that something copyrighted is guaranteed revenue, and infringement costs "real" dollars (though no one gets to write it off on their taxes....) Even "The Economist", not exactly anarcho-capitalists, said recently that copyright was never intended to be a property right. *shrug* Get corporations nuzzled up to the teat of perpetual revenue, and they'll fight tooth & nail to keep it.

    • by Damouze (766305) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:36AM (#42393363)

      It reminds me of an old Sid Meier game (SMAC):

      "Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master. "

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      This didn't apply to books because you could give books away without copying. However now that we have digital products, there's no way to give away a product without actually copying. Technically you can't even use a digital product without copying (ie, copying into ram) or making a derivative work (decoding). The law needs to catch up here instead of just letting corporations get their way.

      At some point I think the content creators will just have to "trust" that the consumer is doing things legally whe

  • by KRL (664739) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:01PM (#42391545)
    I read the tags: eff yro copyright as: Fuck your copyright.
  • This is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:02PM (#42391547)
    ... the logical conclusion to the perpetual copyright dilema. You no longer 'own' anything, not even your own genome. You merely 'license' it for a time, with the license revokable at any time by the 'true copyright holder'.

    And they wonder why there are Pirate Partys in most of the 'free world' these days. Perpetual copyright is evil, it locks away ideas that could have been used to make future ideas as an amalgam of current ideas.
    • Re:This is... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX (665546) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:11PM (#42391585)
      That's part why I like buying physical media. I get looked at as quaint, but my CD collection can't really have its license revoked and I don't lose everything if a hard disk crashes. Same reason I have a lot of DVDs, though the more active nature of Blu-ray does have me concerned. All of these issues with subscription services just reinforce the need for my own media.
      • Re:This is... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:15PM (#42391863)

        Meh, my collection of DRM-free (either self-ripped or torrented) can't have it's license revoked, and it'd take 3 harddrive failures for me to lose it all. Plus, if I did through some catastrophe (say, a housefire, which would also destroy your physical collection), re-torrenting is trivial.

        DRM is only a problem if you're willing to play their game.

        • Re:This is... (Score:5, Informative)

          by nabsltd (1313397) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:01PM (#42392047)

          Plus, if I did through some catastrophe (say, a housefire, which would also destroy your physical collection), re-torrenting is trivial.

          If you don't mind 600x400 resolution with low bitrate MP3 audio, then you can find most everything, but if DVD quality is the worst you'll accept, then it's actually quite hard to find active torrents of older content, unless it's insanely popular (or at least very popular among computer geeks).

          If you want HD, then it's even tougher, even with some content that is still actively for sale. Also, I have noticed that torrents seem to follow basic economics...once the original source is cheap enough, the torrent tends to become unseeded.

      • by thaylin (555395)
        Actually it can. When you buy a CD technically you only own the physical medium and only license the music, and as we all know here the AAs are not above raiding peoples homes to get back control
        • Re:This is... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @03:06AM (#42392945)

          I often wondered about the licensing of that music... the real problem with the AA's is replacement costs. If you've bought a "license", how come you can't get a replacement disc for a minor cost? Why do you have to buy the full license again (buying another copy, as it were)? Jack Valenti tried to weasel out of that question back when he wasn't wormfood... but his definition was as comprehensible as a spider monkey singing opera. (In other words, he danced around the issue, called the person who asked it a commie, and ignored the question.)

    • Inheritance (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phrogman (80473) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:15PM (#42391605) Homepage

      This also bears on inheritance. Someone with a music collection dies and their heirs cannot inherit that music collection because when Big Media gets ahold of the laws like this, their heirs have no legal right to the media

  • Get real! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:02PM (#42391549) Journal

    It is difficult for us to imagine this is the outcome Congress intended.

    Congress intends to deliver whatever the hell their biggest campaign contributors want them to do. This is why we already have perpetual copyright in effect.

    -jcr

    • It is difficult for us to imagine this is the outcome Congress intended.

      Congress intends to deliver whatever the hell their biggest campaign contributors want them to do. This is why we already have perpetual copyright in effect.

      -jcr

      Well that's one way of looking at it for the "government is out to get us" crowd, another is that the U.S. Congress sometimes intends to protect Unites States assets from those almost mythical "not-the-United-States" places out there that the former crowd seem to be oblivious to.

      I'm not for or against protectionist policies in general, but all this "big X and the gub'mint are conspiring against us" blather that paints things as "X got what they wanted therefore it's BAD FOR US", that's just really stupid re

      • Re:Get real! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @03:25AM (#42393021)

        It's more complex than that, I'm afraid. Protectionists can sometimes weasel that the copyright length extension is to protect America's "IP" from those evil brown people, but the true value of extending copyright is the ability to use the same copyrights against new, and otherwise innovative, businesses from breaking into the lucrative "copyright" cash cow. It is not in Disney's best interest to trademark Mickey... they have to copyright him so they can use all the media he appears in to roll over copycats (no pun intended) and parody artists who don't have deep pockets (parody may be protected speech, but it doesn't stop big conglomerates from suing you and bankrupting you in the court system while you're trying to prove that your parody is protected.)

        Every time Mickey's copyright comes up for expiration into the public domain, the Congress (no matter which mascot is in charge) extends the length of copyright. The Supreme Court said in no uncertain terms that congress can extend "for a limited time" to be as long as Congress wants, provided there is an "end" to the time. So the age of perpetual copyright won't occur, but the age of insurmountable copyright is already here. Why? Because corporate interests paid for it. We, as individuals didn't. We had no say in it, even if we voted the bums out.

        So this is more than protectionist policies. This is about spreading the misery to individuals (Youtube takedowns for background music anyone?) and lining the pockets of corporations who use copyright as a big stick to fend off newcomers to the marketplace and freeze creativity by making themselves the arbiters of what gets going and what stays in one's head. I don't like it any more than the next guy, and I don't agree that hatred of the entire process and how it has raped the Public Domain is somehow blather. X getting what they wanted (in this case Corporate Interests and conglomerates) IS bad for us. It ruins the concept of copyright, and it is not how the Founders intended copyright to work.

        I am not of the mind that "no one can make Star Wars in their basement" which many cite as the good that comes from copyright's extension. The great democratization of creativity has had two significant events (among others) that have driven the establishment kicking and screaming into the future. The first was the Printing Press. The second was the Internet. There is nothing more disastrous to an established power than the loss of that power through progress and innovation. We should embrace the new age of creativity and tell Disney (and the rest of them) to fuck themselves.

        • by Spamalope (91802)
          Lets have an intellectual property tax for registered copyrights based on a percentage of the appraised value of the IP. The percentage is near zero for the first twelve years, then scales logarithmically. The tax is to compensate society for the loss of the freedom to remix and reinvent it's heritage so it must become significant enough that few works remain protected past two generations (40 years). i.e. When you're middle aged the IP of your childhood should enter the public domain.
  • by koan (80826)

    "The first case deals with items bought in other countries for resale in the U.S"

    That will lead to everything having a foreign copyright or being made overseas so that it can not be resold in the US where the consumer has the least rights and the corporation has the most rights (See Citizens United for an example)

    "The second case is about whether music purchased on services like iTunes can be resold to other people."

    If "Big Media" could they would force you to stream everything and to pay for that, you woul

  • by ZorroXXX (610877) <hlovdal@ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:22PM (#42391651)
    Back in the days, Borland was a refreshingly sound and sensible manufacturer, trusting its customers (as opposed to others' love for dongles or code wheels or whatnot). If you are not familiar with Borlands's No-Nonsense License Statement, by all means read the full story [osnews.com].

    This software is protected by both United States copyright law and international copyright treaty provisions. Therefore, you must treat this software just like a book, except that you may copy it onto a computer to be used and you may make archival copies of the software for the sole purpose of backing-up our software and protecting your investment from loss.

    ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:25PM (#42391667)

    I occurs to me that there is an unintended upside, so to speak, to not being able to "reassign" ownership to the items covered by these two cases: it makes them an excellent place to hide your assets from your creditors / ex-spouses.

    Think of it...

    "Yes, your honor, I do have 20 million dollars worth of assets, but most of it is the form for European made antiques, acquired legally before the US Supreme Court ruling outlawing such sales, and so I am unable to liquidate them to pay my debts, thus the reason why I am seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection," the man said, privately smirking to himself.

    And so, either we really do own these things and can do with them as we please, or we don't own them and they become perpetually frozen assets that are safe havens for those trying to "hide" their assets.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:37PM (#42391715)

    ... of trying to apply copyright and property like rights when applied to non-scarce information.

    The reality is as long as human beings are greedy/territorial/assholes they will push their authoritarian agenda of trying to control what other people do for their own gain on others. As copyright and "intellectual property" stand now it acts as a back door dictatorship and is a subversive way to take away peoples freedoms. The whole idea of needing permission to use a product you've bought is nonsense, the whole idea of needing permission to REPAIR a product you've bought is nonsense. The whole idea of kids not being allowed to recreate older works and updating them is nonsense. Reality is the law is absurd and politicians cave to whoever throws the most money at them and forget everybody else, the thing they are most worried about is THEIR CUT and not much else.

    We've seen the beginning of insane property laws in Europe when applied to steam games as "steam products", where you can resell steam games but steam gets a cut of the sold copy you sold. It's fucking ridiculous especially when you consider the cost of replication - in practice essentially zero. The whole end game of DRM was to prevent gamers from owning their games and being able to resell them. Europe is trying to half-hazardly come up with a solution but in practice it's still a god damn comedic clusterfuck when compared to the fact that you can get a "used copy" for free off the net. Piracy is a natural outcome of insane laws which were predicted at the beginning of copyright. Companies have too many rights and privileged and much of the public is too uninformed / unconcerned.

    The following should be allowed under SANE laws fan remakes and ability to get source-code for games to fix and update them as well as games going into libraries as cultural works, as the laws currently stand a cubic ass tonne of abandonware/old stuff is just junked and it is done on purpose to control the market so companies 'don't have to compete' with their older works. Being able to shut down game servers/etc/take game code hostage on the other side of the internet is just bullshit.

    Fan remake of chrono trigger discontinued
    http://www.opcoder.com/projects/chrono/ [opcoder.com]

    Freespace 2 open - exists because authors were benevolent enough to release it but it should be required by law that all game assets/source go into library an opened up after a fixed number of years so works can be fixed/updated to run on new platforms.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhAR8rWPluQ [youtube.com]

    As it is corporations have it good with the ability to milk a finite amount of work for much more then it cost to make it which is a dead-weight loss for everyone elses creativity and energy.

    • Good ideas will always be a scarce resource.

      Furthermore, valve owes for bandwidth when transferring the game. So a cut doesn't sound insane.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @09:46PM (#42391753)

    end of non dealer car service as well at the worse as well may even having rent a cars come with a fee to who made that car per rent as well.

  • It is difficult for us to imagine this is the outcome Congress intended.

    They why did Congress put a provision into copyright law which specifically exempts foreign made items fron the right of first sale? It didn't get there out of thin air. This is obviously what they wanted.

  • Digital (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:10PM (#42391843)

    When it comes to reselling digital goods, I think that's a whole clusterfuck our legal system doesn't properly account for. How can the court rule one way or the other when there are no laws to interpret? And even if there is some law that applies, is it possible for the court the overrule it on the basis of absurdity?

    For instance, if I managed to get a law passed through congress that stated that people must respirate using CO2 rather than O2, does a court have the power to void the law regardless of whether its constitutional or not?

    The questions may seem rather dumb, but it seems to me that the nature of digital is so far removed from our normal interpretation of property that it cannot be treated as such. The main difference being that if I resell a guitar of mine, for instance, I no longer have that guitar. With software or digital media, I can just make a copy. If I can't make a copy (well, if it's difficult to make a copy) that's just because the software is designed that way. But the problem with designing software so that it cannot be copied is that it's a futile effort -- it goes against the nature of what software is. All that's needed is electricity and a storage device and you can make as many duplicates as you want. I seriously doubt it's possible to make foolproof DRM -- DRM reminds me of a dog chasing it's tail.

    When it comes to the first case I think it's obvious which way the court will rule. There's no way a copyright invalidates the resale of an item. That's not what copyrights were designed to do -- they're purpose is in the name, to grant exclusive rights over copying (and selling) material. When it comes to the second case I think a false dichotomy is being presented. While I do find it questionable whether the first-sale doctrine applies to digital content, but I don't like the idea of 'licensing' something that exists on my HDD (even though, technically, it's all licensed). If it exists on my HDD or SSD it seems that I should be able to do what I want with it aside from make copies to resell (however, I see it solely as a copyright issue, fuck software patents).

    I dunno, I guess all I'm saying is that this shit's way too complicated. It's one of many cracks that's forming in capitalism. I'm sure in John Locke's day the idea that property is an innate right sounded good (especially to those with property). But have we extended ownership rights too far? Do I really have the right to own an idea? Sure, but once I publicly express that idea, perhaps it now belongs to the public.

    One of the most ironic parts of Atlas Shrugged is when the government abolishes patents and copyrights. Henry Rearden is pissed. I thought it was so funny that throughout the entire book the main characters are bitching and moaning about the government being all over their backs, but when the government actually grants more freedom to society, when the government decides to stop using the threat of violence to protect the coffers of the wealthiest in society, only then do they want the government to wield and assert its power. How can one advocate a philosophy that demands the public be given the least amount of restrictions on their freedom as possible, and at the same time insist that the government is duty-bound to enforce patents and copyrights?

    If you really get down and examine what property is, both in a concrete and abstract sense, it exposes itself to be the big gaping logical hole in capitalism. In a concrete sense one's property is the things they have in their possession -- that includes the music and software on your HDD. In an abstract sense, property is what the government grants one a legal claim over and is willing to enforce that claim. Basically, the law doesn't reflect reality, it reflects an abstraction that conflicts with reality. We try to make reality adhere to the abstraction but that's not always possible. Because, in reality, one can only have total ownership over an idea by not expressing it. Once it's been expressed -- verbally, in print, or digitally -- it belongs to anyone who remembers it.

    Probably none of this makes sense. I blame eggnog.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gnasher719 (869701)

      One of the most ironic parts of Atlas Shrugged is...

      Any mention of "Atlas Shrugged" makes your post invalid.

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:18PM (#42391873)

    In Omega v. Costco [wikipedia.org] it was already decided that there is no first sale doctrine for goods manufactured outside of the USA. The case went to the Supreme Court two years ago but the court was split 4-4 (Kagan recused herself) so the lower (9th District) Court decision stood.

    There already no first sale doctrine for foreign goods in California and the rest of the 9th District.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @04:43AM (#42393239) Journal

      For the sake of clarity:
      When the Supreme Court handed down a split decision, the case was remanded into Federal court,
      even though SCOTUS's actions meant the 9th circuit court's decision in favor of Omega was upheld.
      The Federal Court decided in favor of Costco, Omega appealed, and the last I heard, Costco won the appeal [practicallaw.com]

      TLDR: Your grey market imports are legal everywhere in the USA that isn't the 9th District.
      Extra Explainer: SCOTUS was hearing a case relating to this type of copyright (mis)use and the 9th circuit court was holding off on (re-)hearing related cases until SCOTUS has spoken.

  • What is a gift but a $0.00 sale? Posted on December 25th? Clearly, copyright law is merely the newest means for the Grinch to steal Christmas.

    Would you like a new restriction?
    I would fight it with conviction.

    Would you comply just to obey?
    I would revolt and say, "no way!"

    Would you resale a copyrighted box?
    I'd say, "It's blighted with a pox!"

    Would you ignore wrapper licensing?
    Can blind men be found infringing?!

    Would you strip off protected bits?
    I'd rather deal in counterfeits!
    I do not like less rights and corporate SPAM,
    -Signed, Estranged Nephew of Uncle Sam.

  • by CanEHdian (1098955) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:06PM (#42392069)
    was correct when she said

    “citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognize and reward.” Source [europa.eu]

    So this is good news, the more Ye Average Americans hit their nose against the Great Wall of Copyright, the better. Our job is to show them that this is not "just the way it is" but that there are viable alternatives.

  • by PPH (736903)

    Next year, the EFF has to start a 'don't gift that copyrighted product' campaign right around Black Friday. Kids having their presents ripped out of their hands by agents of big media, Santa Claus being led off in handcuffs, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:24PM (#42392145)

    The copyright industry is trying to apply the properties of physical objects, into the realm of digital bits where object distribution is not bound by physical limits. Add to that they want there cake as well, by having said non-physical objects be bound by physical borders in a border-less environment.

    This should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the current state of copyright. That these two cases have made it to SCOTUS, just means the courts are forced to play the hand, with Congress in tow, ready to scrape up the muck with whichever way their decision favors. If it favors big media, see the Internet explode in backlash with Congress being lambasted by every industry in existence. If it favors first sale, see big media down play it and blast Congress with bullhorns and checkbooks and testicle trophies. There's no third option here without contradicting state case law, or slapping international copyright agreements in the face.

    Stay tuned kiddies! This is where shit gets interesting!!!!

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:44PM (#42392219)
    I find myself unsure of how the SCOTUS might rule on either of these cases. If they rule so as to effectively destroy First Sale Doctrine, what are our options? Legislation? For any companies that take advantage of the new rules, can we organize and either compete directly ourselves, boycott the companies in question, or find existing competitors and persuade them to make adhering to First Sale Doctrine a selling point?
  • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:57PM (#42392273) Journal

    An unfavorable ruling from the Supreme Court will not mean the end of resale, even for imported items. It will mean the grey market (sale of items imported from other countries without the blessing of the manufacturer) will become illegal, but items bought from authorized resellers in the United States will still be able to resold.

    I rather suspect the Supreme Court will be sharpening their knives and splitting this hair very fine, ruling against the importer but failing to provide guidance otherwise.

  • by jasnw (1913892) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @01:14AM (#42392529)
    The only way this will turn around is a buyer's revolt. Nobody really "needs" what Big Media and Big Content are selling. Like-to-have, yes, but need: no. Just get a big enough block of consumers to stop consuming until this craziness stops and things will eventually change direction. However, given that the Comsumer is a teen-age girl with too much money and serious peer pressure issues, this will happen about the same day that leaders in this country start leading again. As long as the money keeps rolling in, the Bigs don't give a rip how the 10% of people who know how to use their brains think - it doesn't matter to them. So, we'll keep on heading down this road and eventually you won't even be able to license something for more than a one-time use. Everything will be on the juke-box, pay-per-play business model.
  • You OWN it. . . (Score:4, Informative)

    by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:08AM (#42393291) Homepage Journal

    You OWN the content you buy on DVD or Blu-Ray, etc. and the content producers actually acknowledge this in their advertising. When was the last time you saw or heard an ad for a movie on blu-ray or DVD? What do they say? Do they say "License it on Blu-Ray or DVD today?" No, the advertisements say "Own it on Blu-Ray or DVD today!"

    They explicitly acknowledge that you OWN that copy (it is NOT licensed, it is SOLD). It is the distribution rights you do not get with that copy of the media that you own. You can resell that one copy you bought (and if you've made backups which are defensible under Fair Use you must either destroy the backups or transfer those backups with the original when you resell it) if you want. You just cannot violate copyright by making copies to distribute.

  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @07:01AM (#42393617)
    So the multi nationals want to turn all consumers into rent slaves, you own nothing you merely rent it from them never knowing when your masters decide the change the rules and take what you rent away.

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequilla. -- Mitch Ratcliffe

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