Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Right to Sell a Legal Copy of a Work

I just heard John T. Mitchell talk about "Copyrights v. Copy Rights: Current Law on Tactics Copyright Owners Use to Circumvent the Rights of Copy Owners" (a Center for Intellectual Property member event).  During his talk, he brought up UMG v. Augusto, which was decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.  Quoting Mitchell:
In a case we had been watching for some time (UMG v. Augusto), the Ninth Circuit finally upheld the district court’s holding that self-serving restrictions placed on so-called “promotional” CDs could not limit the right of the owner of the CD to sell it without permission.
In the U.S., we recognize this right as being part of the First Sale Doctrine (which actually requires no actual sale).  Mitchell noted that we - because we've been brainwashed (my words) - and the Courts do not apply the First Sale Doctrine to software because the software industry has insisted that it doesn't apply.  However, I can sell a used book, but why can't I sell a used piece of software? I can lend a book, so shouldn't I be able to lend software? I can give a book away, so shouldn't I also be able to give software away?

By the way, the Center for Intellectual Property (CIP) holds monthly conversations for its members.  Member fees seem very reasonable, even for students.

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