Trio Of Important First Sale Cases All Hit Appeals Court In Early June
from the it's-first-sale-month dept
Zusha Elinson has noted that a trio of important cases concerning the “first sale doctrine” in copyright law will all be heard on appeal in the (at times wacky) 9th Circuit in early June. We’ve written about all three cases here before. There’s UMG v. Augusto, which questions whether or not it’s legal to resell “promo CDs” that record labels stamp “not for resale.” In that case, the judge ruled that reselling was perfectly fine, and preventing such sales was a violation of the first sale doctrine (and would, effectively, give record labels a way of creating perpetual and all-controlling copyright, if the decision went the other way). Then there’s Autodesk v. Vernor, similarly involving the right to resell software. Again, the district court ruled that this was allowed, noting that software is really sold, not (as Autodesk claimed) just licensed.
The third case is the troubling one. MDY v. Blizzard is the one case that went the other way, in a ruling that left many copyright experts scratching their heads, noting that it seemed to go against everything that the first sale doctrine stood for — and that nothing the guy did (he made a bot that worked in World of Warcraft) actually violated copyright law.
Hopefully, the appeals court upholds the first two cases and reverses the third… but these days, you never know how courts are going to rule on these sorts of issues. And, the 9th Circuit is often notoriously… weird in some of its rulings. Either way, these are three cases worth watching, as they could have a pretty big impact on the question of whether or not you have the right to do what you want with products you bought.