Writing in MarketWatch, Jennifer Waters explains the implications of a Supreme Court case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, which turns on the question of whether you have the right to re-sell things you buy out of the country, or whether the copyrights embodied by your phones, clothes, gadgets, books, music, DVDs, and other possessions mean that you can't sell your stuff without permission from the original manufacturer.
Following Wiley's theory, you don't really own most of your possessions. You share ownership in your goods with the companies that made the goods you "bought" from them, and they get a veto over your disposal of them, and can also demand a cut of the proceeds.
Put simply, though Apple has the copyright on the iPhone and Mark Owen does on the book “No Easy Day,” you can still sell your copies to whomever you please whenever you want without retribution.
That’s being challenged now for products that are made abroad and if the Supreme Court upholds an appellate court ruling it would mean that the copyright holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it.
“It means that it’s harder for consumers to buy used products and harder for them to sell them,” said Jonathan Bland (sic: Jonathan's surname is actually "Band"), an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association for Research Libraries. “This has huge consumer impact on all consumer groups.”
Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril
Every three years, the US Copyright Office creates temporary exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ban on breaking DRM, provided that people can show that they've been prevented from doing something customary and legitimate with their own property.
In Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? -- a new post on EFF's Deeplinks blog -- I describe the bizarre, unfair and increasingly salient US Copyright Office DMCA exemptions process, which is underway right now.
It's been 72 hours since Google Images removed the "View Image" and (the even more essential) "Search By Image" buttons from its search-results; now you can just install a browser extension (Firefox, Chrome).
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