Thursday, November 03, 2011

Digital Goods and Copyright

In copyright law the first sale doctrine gives someone who purchases a copyrighted work the right to sell or dispose of it without getting permission from the copyright holder.  However, according to law professor Annemarie Bridy, regarding digital products " it will increasingly be the case that consumers do not own the information goods they buy (or, rather, think they've bought)." In The Digital Death of Copyright's First Sale Doctrine she reveals that on October 3 the Supreme Court refused to review Vernor v Autodesk, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision about whether the first sale doctrine applied to transactions involving software and other digital information goods. She concludes:
Under the court's decision in Vernor, all a copyright owner has to do to effectively repeal the statutory first sale doctrine is draft a EULA that (1) specifies that the user is granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user's ability to transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions.
See her article linked above for the full discussion.