Recently I finished reading the Harry Potter series of books and decided to sell them. And a couple of months ago I was moving and sold my Star Wars DVDs.
In neither of these sales did I need the permission of J.K. Rowling or George Lucas. They were my books and my DVDs to resell and not subject to the approval of the author.
The reason I did not need to get the author’s permission is because of the “first-sale doctrine” of the Copyright Act.
The first-sale doctrine basically allows you to resell something you bought without getting the author’s permission and without violating copyright law.
To maintain your right to resell your products, NetChoice joined several other tech companies in filing an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court.
But the US Second Circuit court says that the first-sale doctrine, i.e. your right to resell, doesn’t extend to anything manufactured outside the US.
So, if I went into my local bookstore and bough a copy of one of the Harry Potter books printed in the US, I could freely resell the book. But if that same bookstore sold a version printed in the UK, I could not resell it without Rowling’s permission. That’s just not right. Moreover, I don’t even know how I would get her permission to resell the books.
So, to maintain your right to resell your products, NetChoice joined several other tech companies in filing an amicus brief to ask the US Supreme Court to overrule this US Second Circuit court decision and give you back the right to resell your stuff — no matter where it was made.
Let’s hope the Supreme Court makes the right decision. Otherwise J.K. Rowling and George Lucas will be getting lots of phone calls, emails, letters, and tweets asking for resale permission.
- NetChoice Amicus Brief for Kirstaeng v Wiley & Sons (netcoice.org)