You Can Only Resell This Software If You Think It Doesn't Suck
from the first-sale,-anyone? dept
One of the fun things in looking through all the issues concerning "intellectual property" law as compared to traditional property law is that the folks who are big supporters of intellectual property law always talk about how it's just like traditional property... until something about that doesn't meet their liking. Take for example, the concept of "right of first sale," where you can resell a product once you've bought it. That works great when you buy a chair, but people who bought digital goods face problems. Of course, that's a bit silly, because the resale value of a product often boosts how much people are willing to pay for it. The EFF is now discussing the story of a woman who tried to resell an expensive piece of software on eBay where the company threatened her for breaking the end user license agreement. The story is a bit complex, but basically, the company president contacted her anonymously asking why she was selling it. Her answer was that the software "sucks." She found out that the software company will sometimes grant the right to resell the software and various modules in "special" circumstances, so she asked for permission. The company president denied the permission for her to resell the product, noting that he was the anonymous person who she told her opinion of the software to. As the EFF notes, nothing in the "right of first sale doctrine" says that you need to ask politely to have the right to resell something that you bought. Using the EULA to punish someone -- especially after they found your product to be lacking -- seems to go well beyond what the EULA and copyright law was intended to allow.