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Books Education The Courts United States

Supreme Court Upholds First Sale Doctrine 648

Posted by timothy
from the stopped-clock-right-twice-a-day dept.
langelgjm writes "In a closely-watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court today vindicated the first-sale doctrine, declaring that it "applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad." The case involved a Thai graduate student in the U.S. who sold cheap foreign versions of textbooks on eBay without the publisher's permission. The 6-3 decision has important implications for goods sold online and in discount stores. Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion (PDF) that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad."
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Supreme Court Upholds First Sale Doctrine

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:09AM (#43213365)

    will not stop the publishers from making DMCA requests / filling strikes that can cost you $35 a pop.

    • by pollarda (632730) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:18AM (#43213473)
      There will be a huge push now for electronic books under the guise of "convenience" but what it really comes down to is that they will want to "license" the book rather than sell it. At the same time, the electronic versions will simply continue to make the publishers less and less relevant especially for new titles.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Guise of convenience? I'm pretty sure they really are more convenient, my room is rather small and I do a lot of traveling, I can easily break the DRM on my books so that I have backups, but with paperbooks, I'd never be able to keep as many of them.

        It's easy to say greedy publishers, and to an extent they are, but unless you're in the habit of buying used books or live in a huge house, you're going to have to get rid of them over time anyways, but with ebooks, you won't likely ever hit that point.

        • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:19PM (#43214099)

          Guise of convenience? I'm pretty sure they really are more convenient...

          Electronic copies can be more convenient. But currently, they are not. Why are they not more convenient? Well let me see if I can find a source... Oh yes here it is:

          I can easily break the DRM on my books so that I have backups...

          If you notice, this person here has to run cracking software just to get their files to play nicely and not destroy itself if this person tries to do the basic tasks of backup or use on an 'unauthorized device'.

          You see, they can be more convenient, but they are not. The eBook market is a minefield of incompatibility and artificial restriction. It takes away huge capabilities present in real books, and offers it back in a crippled/reduced capacity and calls it a 'bonus feature'.

          Want to give your book to a friend? Hand it to them. Done.

          Want to give your eBook to a friend? Well, first lets understand what format of eBook you have, which vendor did you purchase it from. Depending on the vendor, and their software, you might be able to lend it, but only once, or not at all. I'm not sure. Oh wait, your friend is using this specific type of software right? Oh he isn't? Well, guess you can't lend it to him. So he wants to use the software, hope he agrees to all the terms and conditions associated with the use of such software.

          Am I exaggerating? A little... No wait, I'm not exaggerating at all, it really is a mass of incompatible formats, competing ecosystems, overly-limited 'rights', and flawed laws which make even your simple 'remove the DRM' action illegal (depending on how cranky a prosecutor is on a given day)

          eBooks SHOULD be more convenient, but right now they certainly are not.

        • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:22PM (#43214127)

          Guise of convenience? I'm pretty sure they really are more convenient, my room is rather small and I do a lot of traveling, I can easily break the DRM on my books so that I have backups, but with paperbooks, I'd never be able to keep as many of them.

          It's easy to say greedy publishers, and to an extent they are, but unless you're in the habit of buying used books or live in a huge house, you're going to have to get rid of them over time anyways, but with ebooks, you won't likely ever hit that point.

          With a licensed ebook you don't have the option of reselling it. When you're done with those paper books, you can resell them and recoup some of your cash. If it weren't for getting screwed on your resale rights, I'd be on board. If the ebooks were like 50% cheaper than print it might be worth giving up on the resale rights. Unfortunately the ebooks I've looked at were the same or more expensive than printed books.

          • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:52PM (#43214467)

            And based on my meeting with a publisher rep yesterday (I work in education, publisher was Pearson) the book is only "yours" for a year. Retake the course, or take the next level up course more than a year later, and you can't even use your "own" book for reference/refresher.

            • by berashith (222128)

              yup, Pearson is absolute shit. Now that they say that you can use either IE or safari, you still cant use safari. Restricting all E-edition stuff tio active-x is just wonderful.

          • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @01:08PM (#43214649)

            There are "open book cases" in my town now, think of it as some publicly accessible bookshelf where you put your old books and take home the ones that are there and are interesting to you. At first I thought they'd be plundered the nanosecond they are put up, but it seems to work out pretty well, and they see quite some use, too. One of those things is near the train station I frequent and no matter when I go there, someone's always standing there perusing the book, and people actually do bring books, too, not only take them out.

            I kinda cannot see anything like this with eBooks.

        • Think this through. Yes, ebooks are more convenient, at least for some, because of lack of space, etc. They are also usually cheaper and we are told because there is no printing and shipping cost involved. Right now, the competition for ebooks is printed books. When printed books go the way of the dinosaur, what will be in place to hold prices down? Yes, they will still be more convenient from a storage perspective, but not a cost perspective. What if your ebook textbook costs you $300 like your paper t

      • by bhcompy (1877290) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:49AM (#43213791)
        Err, electronic versions make them more relevant. Lazy college professors require you to purchase the online license from publishers like those in question(Wiley) because the website comes setup already with all the quizzes, homework, and tests preconfigured. This is basically standard in every university and community college I've researched in the past 6 years or so. It's too easy for the professor to pass up
        • Well, considering how my profs usually were very keen to hawk their own books, I guess they really have to be VERY lazy to pass up the opportunity to force their students to buy their publications...

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @01:05PM (#43214623)

        Convenience? eBooks may be much, but convenient, they are not. Well, at least the ones that are for sale.

        A dead tree edition is convenient. My buddy needs to look something up or wants to read it? Here's the book, return it when you feel like it. The only equipment he needs to read it is a pair of working eyes and the knowledge how to translate the printed symbols into meaningful expressions (aka "reading").

        With an eBook, first of all the question arises if we have the same kind of reader. If not, well, there's a pretty good chance that he won't even be able to read it, even if I can give it to him, which is anything but a given either because of omnipresent DRM.

        If you were talking about some kind of open document then yes, I could easily agree, they're very convenient. I have the PDF version of quite a few papers that I need on my laptop, and it's heaps easier to take those along when I travel. I can also easily hand over a copy to people who want to read them as well (before anyone asks, yes, I do have the right to do so). I can store thousands of pages that would fill a laptop case by themselves and have still lots of room for more and for other stuff.

        That would be very convenient if it applied to other documents as well. But eBooks are usually not really like that. They are locked down by artificial restrictions that strip them of the convenience they COULD have.

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:46AM (#43213761)

      will not stop the publishers from making DMCA requests / filling strikes that can cost you $35 a pop.

      DMCA request doesn't apply here at all, because no copies are being made. And anything else can now be classified as tortuous interference with a business, so that could get expensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:11AM (#43213391)

    Like, seriously? The supreme court saw reason and is judged in favor of the consumer?! Will wonders ever cease!

    • by Zcar (756484) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:16AM (#43213451)

      They're not supposed to rule in favor of consumers. Or corporations. They're supposed to rule in "favor" of the law, regardless of which side is popular. The why of a ruling is more important, often, than which side wins and the "right" ruling can be made for the wrong reasons.

      • by ThorGod (456163) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:25AM (#43213535) Journal

        You say that, but given some of their more recent decisions this latest decision is still shocking.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) *

          You say that, but given some of their more recent decisions this latest decision is still shocking.

          Would you care to give an example? There are a number of rulings that they made that I didn't like, but when I look at the underlying law, yeah, they interpreted it correctly. If you don't like a law, you shouldn't try to get the courts to twist or ignore it. Instead you should try to get the legislature to repeal or change it.

          Btw, if anyone is interested, the dissenting justices in this case were Scalia, Ginsburg, and Kennedy. So a righty, a lefty and a centrist.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:56AM (#43213883) Journal

          I suspect they were primarily concerned with the adverse effect suspending the first sale doctrine would have on currently legitimate business. Surely ending the first sale doctrine overseas would benefit the publishers, but it would hurt a lot of other companies too.

          I doubt the rights of the individual ever came up.

          • Plus, suspending first sale doctrine on imports would basically be putting a "Not Welcome" mat out for businesses located in America. Why would a business be located here when they could relocate to another country, import their products to the US, and have total control of the products post-sale thanks to no first sale doctrine on imports?

        • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Etherwalk (681268) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:21PM (#43214119)

          They generally make decisions that are pro-establishment. Part of that is because the establishment has better lawyers (business v. individual cases) or the non-establishment is unsympathetic (criminals) or the establishment has some influence on which cases come up (if it loses in the Circuit Court of Appeals, the SG's office decides whether to appeal based on whether or not they think the case is a good test case--so the first circuit case for whether it's okay to record police officers on Boston Common, for example, doesn't get appealed because it's not a good test case for the government) or the justices have experiences on the prosecutorial side of the system and so tend to favor it.

          However, they're also nine people looking at the law and making decisions based on what seems to make sense to them, in situations where the law can be read to favor either side. Kind of like where all of the courts of appeals had said that committing a crime "with a firearm" included even having a firearm in your pocket at the time a crime was committed. The Supreme Court overturned every circuit because it was an idiotic reading of the law.

          Here, the law is more ambiguous--the question turned on whether a duplication in a foreign country, where the U.S. Copyright Act did not apply, was a duplication "under" the U.S. Copyright Act. Because duplications under the act are susceptible to the first sale doctrine.

          The Court held it was a duplication "Under" the act.

      • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:44AM (#43213735)

        But the body of law is frequently contradictory, and the Constitution is frequently vague. That give the justices a fair bit of latitude in their decisions while still being constant with the law. It is good to see them choosing to err on the side of individual's rights in a case that could very legitimately gone either way.

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:48AM (#43213781) Homepage

        Those laws were created by people chaffing against the abuses of what would most likely be compared to one of our modern multinational corporations.

        The notion of corporation as person would likely appall the whole lot of them regardless of political faction.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:23PM (#43214135) Homepage

          Since we're dragging the dead into this [c2.com], I'll say that the founding fathers would likely support corporate personhood. They'd probably have less concern for the rest of the Constitution when allowing it, though.

          The debate over corporate personhood starts from a simple claim: If a corporation isn't a real entity with rights, then its contracts aren't protected by contract law. That means that employment contracts aren't valid, business-to-business contracts don't matter, and the only way for anything to get done would be personal contracts, meaning the CEO is personally responsible for the office toilet paper.

          For tiny companies, personal contracts are fine. For modern small businesses, even, turnover may be high enough that personal contracts won't work. Sure, you can make that agreement today with the CEO, but next week the company could fire its CEO and your contract is probably going to go unfulfilled.

          The solution is to give corporations some rights. Give them contract protection, so they can legally be a party to agreements. Give them free speech, so the government can't simply shut down gun manufacturers or publishers it doesn't like. Give them the right of ownership, so the company agents can conduct business without needing any particular person to be involved in every transaction.

          Once you start granting companies rights, though, you hit the slippery slope... If ownership of supplies is allowed, why not copyrights? Copyrights expire after the author's death, so that means the company's death... in a few centuries. Individuals have the right to bear arms, so a company militia is perfectly fine, right?

          As I understand, there was a lot of support in the 1700s for expanding business. America was going to be the land of opportunity, with resources to spare for everyone, so where an Englishman would be lucky to have a small shop, an American could have two or four easily - and each shop's employees would need to make deals on behalf of the company. Back at the framing of the Constitution, it'd be easy enough to designate corporations as limited entities, granted only a particular set of rights to allow them to function for commerce, but not to directly sway politics. Now, though, we can't touch the sacred Constitution.

          Slowly, we're moving in the right direction, but we just don't have any codified laws to lead judges. Corporations eventually get judgements clarifying that they have the rights they need, but with so much backlash against any extent of "corporate personhood", it's political suicide for any lawmaker to try to define what's allowed and what isn't. Judges have to decide for themselves what's right or wrong far more than they're supposed to.

      • They're not supposed to rule in favor of consumers. Or corporations. They're supposed to rule in "favor" of the law, regardless of which side is popular. The why of a ruling is more important, often, than which side wins and the "right" ruling can be made for the wrong reasons.

        Yes, and that's why SCOTUS isn't full of conservative and liberal appointees and why you can't ever predict not only the final outcome, but the count of SCOTUS judges in favor or against certain cases because these judges don't vote along party lines. These are judges that vote in "favor of the law".

      • by sjames (1099)

        Yes, and OP is shocked that they actually did so for once.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:12AM (#43213403)

    No better time to start making money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:13AM (#43213409)
    I think I speak for every politician and lobbyist when I ask "Who the hell are these nine impostors, and what have they done with the real Supreme Court justices?"
    • by PRMan (959735)
      It's like an episode of Doctor Who or the Skrull Invasion, except that we prefer the aliens...
  • Broad Application (Score:5, Informative)

    by cob666 (656740) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:13AM (#43213411) Homepage
    Quoting the judge: 'the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad'

    I'd like to see this concept applied to anything that is purchased outright. If the publisher lost the ability to control what happens to the book then shouldn't Microsoft lose the ability to control what happens to an XBox after first sale? Modifying the hardware of something that you own should NOT be against the law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by a_big_favor (2550262)
      Since when is it against the law to modify an Xbox?
      • Re:Broad Application (Score:5, Informative)

        by PhrstBrn (751463) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:30AM (#43213591)
        DMCA + DRM anti-circumvention clauses makes it a gray area in some places. Cosmetic mods are fine, things that might affect how Xbox DRM works, probably a DMCA violation.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Since the digital-lock breaking provisions of the DMCA. Hardware mods have been contraband for many years in the USA. Ask any Canadian mod-chip dealer and they'll tell you they will not ship to the USA because they don't want to risk their livelihood. Granted, it's now also illegal in Canada as of a few months ago.

    • by alen (225700) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:33AM (#43213623)

      you can modify the hardware all you want, you can't play on x-box live with modified hardware. online service is different than hardware you own.

    • But they don't have to let you use their online service if your xbox has been tampered with, nor do they have to give you half the game if you buy it used and the activation code is used up. And consumers won't vote with their wallets on such an issue, the consumers in this case are pre-teens with more money than they know what to do with and no thoughts about anything beyond next week.

      Legal questions aside, you could mod your console already prior to this decision. The enforcement to try to get you t
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I'd also like to see it for things like software licenses. For instance, VS.Net Pro 2012 in the US costs $472, but in Canada, it costs $667. Amazon US refuses to ship this product to Canada. That's almost a $200 difference (41% more) per license. Things go both ways here. Textbooks are more expensive in the US, and software is often cheaper, at least compared to other first world countries.
  • E-books (Score:5, Insightful)

    by balsy2001 (941953) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:13AM (#43213413)
    I wouldn't be surprised to see a bigger push towards e-books. That is a way around the "problem" for the publishers.
    • Re:E-books (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:20AM (#43213503) Homepage
      It won't be for long. The E.U. high court's decision to allow the resale of used software (Usedsoft vs. Oracle) stated that giving a permanent license for an one-time payment concludes a sale, and the First Sale doctrine applies. Just because you name your EULA in a fancy manner, it doesn't change that it covers a sale. At least for the E.U., all ebook providers thus have to implement the infrastructure to allow a resale of used ebooks.
      • Re:E-books (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:31AM (#43213597) Journal

        I think the issue would be that the DMCA, unless substantially amended, would make first sale irrelevant, not that fancy-EULA-talk would eliminate first sale in theory:

        If my DRM system is sufficiently robust that you would have to break it(either to transfer the file to the party you are selling to, or for the party you are selling to to read/execute the file), you can have your precious little 'first sale' rights, it's just that somebody still needs to commit a federal felony to make the goods sold actually worth more than $0 to anybody who I don't approve(since the value of an encrypted ebook you can't read, or software that won't run because the authentication server isn't giving it the thumbs up, isn't very high..)

  • by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:14AM (#43213427) Journal

    Now lots of online businesses peddling second hand goods will spring up in no time.

    What about pdf books and eBooks? Can they be traded online or offered free by the legitimate purchaser?

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:16AM (#43213449) Homepage Journal

    Seriously? Reselling a physical product you bought legally needed the highest court in the land to adjudicate?

    I'm not surprised to see Justices "Whatever helps big corporations the most is best for the country" Kennedy, and "Whatever the republican party says today is the founder's original intent" Scalia writing a dissent, though. I don't know what could have made Ginsberg side with them though.

    • by PPH (736903)

      I'm certain Kennedy and Scalia would have decided otherwise had the product in question been guns instead of books.

      • Even though I consider the second amendment poorly advised in a nuclear age, weapon(never sure why weapons that use a small explosive charge to propel a metal slug are particularly special in this regard) ownership is nevertheless a guaranteed right according to the highest law of the land, and I would very much like any court of the country to protect any individual right we have collectively decided is innate.

        I'd personally like a supermajority of Americans to reconsider the value of the second amendment

        • by mjr167 (2477430)
          The 18th was repealed... Outlawing booze accomplished nothing other than turn normal people into criminals.
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:26AM (#43213545)

      "Seriously? Reselling a physical product you bought legally needed the highest court in the land to adjudicate?"

      Yes, it did. BUT, you're wrong about one thing. It isn't the "physical product" that is at issue here. it's the copyrighted work.

      This has BIG implications for copyrighted works. In essence, it upholds the 100-year-old rule that says publishers' "terms" bedamned: if you bought it, it's YOURS. You can sell it, burn it, or whatever you want.

      Although lower courts have upheld First Sale Doctrine re: copyrighted software for resale on Ebay and Amazon, it was reaffirmed here by the Supreme Court.

      So unless you have an existing contract with the publisher when you buy software, you can pretty much ignore their "license agreement". You bought it, it's yours. Once you have paid for it, you can do whatever you want with it, regardless of any "license agreement" inside the box or in a popup window. But you still can't legally distribute copies without the copyright holder's permission.

      • It wasn't apparent from my post, but I understand that abstraction here. The physical product just neatly embodies that character.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @05:47PM (#43218115)

        Yes, it did. BUT, you're wrong about one thing. It isn't the "physical product" that is at issue here. it's the copyrighted work.

        he actual decision makes some rather insightful observations:

        Things like :

        noting your microwave has software in it, and that selling your microwave made in China would now have copyright implications. -- you would need the rights holders permission to sell.

        ditto your car if it was an import, or perhaps ditto your car even if it domestic if the computer module component was made abroad.

        and then there's the note that product packaging is copyright, so that box of markers in a cardboard box with a picture of a dog on it... well it was made abroad and you can't re-sell it until you get permission from the photographer who took that picture.

        Wiley's desired interpretation of the copyright act had far far wider implications than just books, or even media. It would have affected practically anything sold with an an instruction manual, anything with a picture on it, anything with a picture on the box, anything with software in it...

    • by cfalcon (779563)

      Maybe because Ginsberg fucking sucks too?

      Remember the 5-4 decision saying that the government could take your house, give you a few bucks for it, and then hand the land over to someone with a business plan to build a mall? That was all "conservative" justices in the 4, with the swing siding with the "liberals" for the majority.

      This should have been 9 fucking 0.

      • Oh, no, this isn't a liberal/conservative thing. It's a hating Scalia and Kennedy thing. I know you could get that impression from the fact that I was accusing Scalia of being a republican lapdog, but that's just his particular method of being terrible. The man seems intent on attacking/defending things in court on a strictly partisan basis.

    • by chill (34294)

      The irony is thick with this one.

      "i kan reed" might want to start by reading the linked opinion. The document contains not only the majority opinion, but the dissenting opinion(s) as well. In this case, it was authored by Justice Ginsberg.

  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@NOspam.comcast.net> on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:16AM (#43213455)

    This may be one of the most important decisions this court has gotten right in years. This was absolutely huge because of the implications of what would have happened if it had gone the other way. This is critical in terms of the idea of actually owning what you buy, without this manufactures could simply make things out of country and avoid first sale rights. This could have affected pretty much every aspect of Americans daily life and is a good first step in restoring Intellectual Property sanity.

    It's funny how property rights have historically been a right wring agenda item until they are shown to be just as important to the left as well...

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:20AM (#43213499) Homepage Journal
    may be found at this link [supremecourt.gov]. Surprisingly, Scalia was the only justice from the conservative wing to dissent.
  • 6-3? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Udo Schmitz (738216)
    6-3? What did the 3 think? This is mind boggling. And kind of frightening.
  • Is there any way we can say the same about cell phones? Even if they were bought under contract? As long as I am still using their service I should be able to unlock the phone!!
  • by roccomaglio (520780) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:29AM (#43213583)
    The majority opinion was written by Justice Stephen Breyer and he was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas. The majority opinion was that you loose control when you sell something. Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Samuel Alito said that congress was free to change the law if they wanted, but sided with the majority. The dissenting opinion was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:31AM (#43213605) Homepage Journal

    Many here do not understand event the definition of capitalism:
    private ownership and operation of property
    that's all it is.

    Denying people's right to private ownership and operation of property is denying capitalism. It's a good thing that this judge went in the right direction, but what is troubling is that this was ever even a question: can people own property?

    Can people own and operate private property? Can you sell your own stuff that you made or bought? Isn't that a strange thing to ask in a society that is supposedly capitalist? But of-course it is not a strange thing to ask, because the society is no longer capitalist. Capitalism really exists as a concept in a free market economy, because capitalism in fact requires individual freedom. Denying freedom to the individuals will automatically deny capitalism and what do you have when you do not have capitalism because you do not have freedom?

    Well, you may still end up with some people owning and operating private property but not all people being able to do it, because the governing principles changed to deny all people equal protection against government intervention by law.

    It is when you do not have equal treatment of people in the context of their relationship with their government by law when you really no longer have free market but you also lose the principles of capitalism for most people.

    Again: capitalism is ownership and operation of private property. This is a basic fundamental right, all other rights are only an extension of this one right. If you have no right to own and operate private property, you will not be able to have resources, you will not even be allowed to own and operate your own body. And that's true even today, look at this lack of capitalism, lack of free market and thus lack of freedom even to do what you want with your own body. All these government officials telling you what you must or are not allowed to do, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, who you can and cannot have sex with, etc.

    Unfortunately it is now news when a judge actually protects individual freedoms in a rare case of outbreak of common sense or decency or something like that, it's no longer the rule, it's the exception.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @11:31AM (#43213609)

    The breakdown of votes is very different to what I'm used to seeing on Supreme Court cases – you've got Breyer, Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan in the majority, and Scalia, Kennedy, and Ginsburg in dissent. That's really weird; usually you've got Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts on the conservative wing voting together, with Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor as the liberal bloc. Kennedy is a bit of a swing vote, though he's gone more with the conservatives recently, and Scalia used to occasionally vote with the liberals on civil liberties cases, but he doesn't any more and is now pretty much an elderly partisan crank. Roberts occasionally crosses the line (as with the decision upholding PPACA) but it's rather unusual to see so much intermixing between the liberal and conservative blocs.

    Just goes to show that copyright as a political issue doesn't neatly break down along existing partisan lines.

    • ...it's rather unusual to see so much intermixing between the liberal and conservative blocs.

      Yeah really, it's like interracial marriage in the 50s. I'm not sure if it's even legal.

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:30PM (#43214213)

    The federal government protects the profits of big pharma by banning the re-importation of medications and medical devices sold in other countries. Hopefully this ruling sets a precedent for a challenge to that ridiculous prohibition. There's no valid reason that a drug should sell for $X in the USA and sell for a tiny fraction of that price just over the border.

    Funny how the government is all in favor of "free trade" until it threatens some deep-pocketed special interest group.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @05:15PM (#43217757)

    Good on scotus but I'm betting that legal fees still wiped out his profits.

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