Intellectual Property

Ownership, Resale of Goods at Stake in Copyright Case

Can you sell your old DVDs and textboooks?

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The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in a case called Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, and their final decision could help shape the future of "first sale," a legal doctrine that underpins the right to sell, lend, or give away the things you buy, even if those things contain copyrighted elements.

First sale provides the legal framework for marketplaces like used bookstores, flea markets, garage sales, and eBay. It's crucial to making sure U.S. copyright holders can't dictate, for decades, what you do with the books, CDs, DVDs, games, etc., that you buy. But book publisher Wiley says it doesn't apply if the copyright holder is clever enough to ensure the product in question is manufactured outside of the United States.