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Electronic Frontier Foundation Your Rights Online

Defending the First Sale Doctrine 338

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

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:11PM (#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.
  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:21PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:25PM (#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.

  • Re:Get real! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:36PM (#42391711) Homepage

    You are wrong. Check the data. Wall Street was for Obama in 2008 but in 2012 it definitely backed Mitt.

    Moreover the 10-2% which lives majoritarily in NY, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington state was for Obama.

    Mitt got the backing, of the 1% (no surprises there) and the surprisingly enough form the welfare and pork-barrel receiving poor white people from the Red States. Again check the data, is all out there.

  • by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:37PM (#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 []

    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. []

    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.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @10:46PM (#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.

  • 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 ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:50PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:24AM (#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 Jessified ( 1150003 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @02:00AM (#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 @02:26AM (#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 EuclideanSilence ( 1968630 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @03:54AM (#42392885)

    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 Doctor_Jest ( 688315 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @03:56AM (#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.

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

    by Doctor_Jest ( 688315 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @04:06AM (#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.)

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

    by Doctor_Jest ( 688315 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @04:25AM (#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 Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:41AM (#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.

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

    by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @06:08AM (#42393289) Homepage

    you are a complete idiot. He got as much of his funds from 1%ers as Romney did.

    Luckily this is something one can look up. It is not an opinion but a matter of facts. So let's have a look at them:

    57% of Obama donations were under $200

    24% of Romney donations were under $200

    11% of Obama donations were for the max $2500

    39% of Romney donations were for the max $2500

    The four biggest Obama Super PAC donors combined gave less money than the top (or second) Romney Super PAC donor alone.

    Donor 58 by highest amount for Obama gave as much money as the 217 highest donor for Romney. Yeap, Romney had approx. four times as many 1%ers giving money to this campaign.

    So who's the idiot now?

    p.s. Not that this data was needed. Your signature gives it away. Only a simpleton cannot see through the fallacies of Atlas Shrugged,

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.