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Supreme Court To Decide Whether Or Not You Own What You Own 543

Jafafa Hots writes "The Supreme Court is set to decide, in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, whether or not First Sale Doctrine applies to products made with parts sourced from outside the United States. If the Supreme Court upholds an appellate ruling, it would mean that the IP holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it. Your old used CDs, cell phone, books, or that Ford truck with foreign parts? It may not be yours to sell unless you get explicit permission and presumably pay royalties. 'It would be absurd to say anything manufactured abroad can't be bought or sold here,' said Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment lawyer and Schwartz Fellow at the New American Foundation who specializes in technology issues."
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Supreme Court To Decide Whether Or Not You Own What You Own

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  • Worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @08:55AM (#41595229) Journal

    Even worse, many items are made from petroleum. Just think of plastics and everything made from plastic or incorporating bits of plastic (I see some vinyl in that there car, sonny, and the tires are made of rubber). Now some of the petroleum used in making those plastics and related synthetics might have come from wells in the USA, but some might not and it tends to get blended during or after refining. The provenance of such intermediate materials is not tracked.

    So we have another question: how much transformation of a foreign-sourced raw material or intermediate material derived therefrom would be needed to escape the consequences of this putative ruling? Would shaping foreign wood into furniture be sufficient? What about polymerizing a foreign-sourced material (making an intermediate of plastic or ceramic or rubber)? Even supposing a strict boundary could be defined for the amount of processing or transformation required, it would just lead to the creation and feeding of loophole-finding (or making) industries.

  • Globalism at work (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @08:57AM (#41595241)

    Since time before time every merchant has known the following motto: Buy low. Sell high. Now with globalism we can buy labor and materials cheaply from the ends of the world and sell high in our own home market where half the populations lost their jobs to outsourcing. Isn't double dipping a great thing?

    Wait, a private citizen like you wants to use the same strategy?! How dare you even think of this unpatriotic act circumventing the core values of capitalism? Preposterous! Only governments and large corporations are allowed to do that. You just take what you are offered at our fair and reasonable prices or we'll see you in court. Now go back to your television and be a model consumer.

    Meanwhile in some research lab...

    Hey guys, looky here! I have just found a new source of energy! We might be able to power our rockets and indeed our whole civilization with it! I call it hypocrisy and the best part is it seems to be an abundant and renewable resource in our civilization!

  • by roccomaglio ( 520780 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @09:10AM (#41595355)
    Justice Thomas has stated he does not feel that he is listening when he is thinking about what to say, so he does not ask questions. It is flame bait to claim that he is sleeping. The interesting thing is that some of the pro corporate stuff comes out the liberal side of the court. For instance Keho, this was where the supreme court decided that the government could seize property via eminate domain and give it to a corporation. The logic was that the government would receive more tax revenue from the new use. The conservative side produced citizen united which basically lets corporation give unlimited money to political speech.
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @09:16AM (#41595415) Journal
    The real question is how the ruling, if upheld, would affect subsequent cases. At a glance there's still a lot of reasons to be afraid, very afraid.

    Some time ago in NL we had laws against "parallel imports" that specifically targeted this practice (they probably have been superseded by Euro laws since). If I remember correctly, this law granted the manufacturer or their designated representatives the right of first sale (and first sale only) in our country, which was achieved by forbidding anyone else to import their stuff in bulk. Kirtsaeng wouldn't have been able to import the books under this law, but there would have been absolutely no question about the legality of second hand sales in general.

    Another thing that I wouldn't mind to be set firmly into law. If you buy a physical product, it should come with a perpetual license for all associated IP: patents, trademarks and copyrights. That license is an inseparable part of the product. The idea that the license remains with the first buyer and is non-transferrable is ludicrous, yet that is exactly what IP holders would love. Creators of intangible products like computer games and e-books have already gotten in on this action, and made transferring access certificates or keys to create game accounts more or less impossible. I do understand the difficulties there, but I'd me much more inclined to firmly anchor the first sale doctrine into explicit law and extend it to non-tangible products, than I'd be to extend the notion of personal licenses to physical products, as is seemingly on the table in this case.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:01AM (#41595937) Journal

    Justice Thomas has stated he does not feel that he is listening when he is thinking about what to say, so he does not ask questions. It is flame bait to claim that he is sleeping

    Really? One of the finest legal minds in the country can't think on his feet? When I listen I come up with questions automatically. The very act of processing the information coming in produces questions. I'd go as far as to say that if you don't have questions after a talk, whether it's an argument, a speech, or a lecture, you weren't really listening.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:10AM (#41596023) Journal

    It's not complicated at all. Copyright law is incompatible with property rights. Pick which one you want.

  • by schroedingers_hat ( 2449186 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:23AM (#41596201)
    By putting it into landfill you are still transferring ownership.
  • Re:Yes and no (Score:1, Interesting)

    by zidium ( 2550286 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:26AM (#41596241) Homepage

    When Obama gets re-elected and nominates one to two more supreme court justices, this will certainly become law-by-judicial-fiat, which is completely unconstitutional.

    Fucking judges.

    Check out Men In Black: How The Supreme Court is Destroying America [].

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:53AM (#41596547) Homepage Journal
    Except that Kelo was completely constitutional. It says right in the constitution that the government can seize property as long as they properly compensate the previous owner.
    I actually saw this happen in a nearby city. There was an area predominantly populated by fixed income, older people who owned their own homes mortgage free. The city decided that they wanted to build a commercial area there. Cities hate residents, because residents cost them money, while commerce pays them money, so it is easy to understand why they would want to move commercial in. They ended up making lowball offers on hundreds of houses. Some people took them, some didn't. The city would also let you move your house, but they would only approve the moving permit from the city's chosen contractor, which was expensive. The longer people stayed, the lower the offers got, until finally some people had their house condemned out from under them for refusing to sell. Those who did move had to go from having no mortgage to having a mortgage on a more expensive house because most of these houses were in the $50k range and houses nearby that were available cost more like $75k, and they were only compensated about $35k for their houses. The city determined that was fair market rate because they were just going to tear the house down anyway, and nobody else would offer anywhere near $35k for a house that was going to be torn down.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb