Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Supreme Court Upholds First Sale Doctrine

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the stopped-clock-right-twice-a-day dept.

Books 648

langelgjm writes "In a closely-watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court today vindicated the first-sale doctrine, declaring that it "applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad." The case involved a Thai graduate student in the U.S. who sold cheap foreign versions of textbooks on eBay without the publisher's permission. The 6-3 decision has important implications for goods sold online and in discount stores. Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion (PDF) that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

will not stop the publishers from making DMCA requ (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213365)

will not stop the publishers from making DMCA requests / filling strikes that can cost you $35 a pop.

Re:will not stop the publishers from making DMCA r (5, Insightful)

pollarda (632730) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213473)

There will be a huge push now for electronic books under the guise of "convenience" but what it really comes down to is that they will want to "license" the book rather than sell it. At the same time, the electronic versions will simply continue to make the publishers less and less relevant especially for new titles.

Re:will not stop the publishers from making DMCA r (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213787)

Guise of convenience? I'm pretty sure they really are more convenient, my room is rather small and I do a lot of traveling, I can easily break the DRM on my books so that I have backups, but with paperbooks, I'd never be able to keep as many of them.

It's easy to say greedy publishers, and to an extent they are, but unless you're in the habit of buying used books or live in a huge house, you're going to have to get rid of them over time anyways, but with ebooks, you won't likely ever hit that point.

Re:will not stop the publishers from making DMCA r (1)

pollarda (632730) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213931)

Yes, but the point is that they will push the electronic versions for reasons different than the reasons their advertising states.

Re:will not stop the publishers from making DMCA r (4, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213791)

Err, electronic versions make them more relevant. Lazy college professors require you to purchase the online license from publishers like those in question(Wiley) because the website comes setup already with all the quizzes, homework, and tests preconfigured. This is basically standard in every university and community college I've researched in the past 6 years or so. It's too easy for the professor to pass up

Re:will not stop the publishers from making DMCA r (2)

SteelKidney (1964470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213825)

Not quite. From what I've seen, at least in some online-only colleges, it's web software that displays textbook material in a non-portable form. You don't purchase, license, or have any rights to the content at all. You pay for the right to use the reader.

Re:will not stop the publishers from making DMCA r (3, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213761)

will not stop the publishers from making DMCA requests / filling strikes that can cost you $35 a pop.

DMCA request doesn't apply here at all, because no copies are being made. And anything else can now be classified as tortuous interference with a business, so that could get expensive.

When will this apply to medicines? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213367)

one wonders.

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (5, Funny)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213443)

you can already resell your Oxycontin scripts on the street. i know of people who may or may not make $1000 a month doing so.

but copyright is the least of your problems

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213483)

Don't you have to show ID when picking them up?
If it's prescribed for Joe Bob then the pharmacist will want to see the ID of Joe Bob.

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213595)

i don't know exactly how its done, but there are scam doctors who will write lots of scripts for it

and its pretty easy to fake a NY State driver's license or state ID card

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (2)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213725)

I'm willing to bet that they sell the prescription after they fill it. Now its possible they have a doctor friend write them a half a dozen fake scripts with fake names and aliases, but that's a good way for a doctor to have their license revoked. The FDA requires doctors to have a certain level of safe guards in place to prescribe a serious quantity of prescription pain meds. Now I suppose they could be writing a bunch of small prescriptions for 10 or 15 pills here and there, but the FDA tracks all those prescriptions.

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213643)

when was the last time you actually showed an ID to pick up a prescription?

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213693)

Prescription? I don't recall, but over the counter cold meds, every freaking time.

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213797)

if you have insurance what is the point of an ID when picking up your prescription?

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (1)

John Bodin (189895) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213893)

New York state now requires, as of about three weeks ago, that a valid photo id is shown when picking up some scripts.

Re:When will this apply to medicines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213899)

Every time I pick up my daughters ADD meds.

drugs are controlled by FDA / health care laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213659)

drugs are controlled by FDA / health care laws.

And obama care 2.0 may even put in to some price controls as well.

Re:drugs are controlled by FDA / health care laws (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213841)

Yes, the pharmaceutical industry does gouge whenever they can, but the assumption that if every country limits the price of individual prescriptions that things will be just peachy is rather naive. Pharmaceutical companies subsidize the unprofitable medication lines like antibiotics with more profitable lines of product. What's more, pharmaceutical lines are risky, it's relatively common to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, or more, on a line only to find out that it can't be approved, and if it does get approved and then yanked, you can be on the hook for huge sums of money from people who suffered ill effects.

The real injustice here is that you have the Canadians and much of the developed world freeriding on US funding.

Re:drugs are controlled by FDA / health care laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213917)

You might like to check your facts - not all of the pharmaceutical companies (and even less of their research) is US based. Most of the companies spend approximately 10% of their income on R&D - an expense that is offset against the tax they pay, and so is effectively free for a profitable company (they are all profitable).

Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213391)

Like, seriously? The supreme court saw reason and is judged in favor of the consumer?! Will wonders ever cease!

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (5, Insightful)

Zcar (756484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213451)

They're not supposed to rule in favor of consumers. Or corporations. They're supposed to rule in "favor" of the law, regardless of which side is popular. The why of a ruling is more important, often, than which side wins and the "right" ruling can be made for the wrong reasons.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (5, Insightful)

ThorGod (456163) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213535)

You say that, but given some of their more recent decisions this latest decision is still shocking.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (2, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213865)

You say that, but given some of their more recent decisions this latest decision is still shocking.

Would you care to give an example? There are a number of rulings that they made that I didn't like, but when I look at the underlying law, yeah, they interpreted it correctly. If you don't like a law, you shouldn't try to get the courts to twist or ignore it. Instead you should try to get the legislature to repeal or change it.

Btw, if anyone is interested, the dissenting justices in this case were Scalia, Ginsburg, and Kennedy. So a righty, a lefty and a centrist.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213933)

Anything Scalia votes for is most likely against consumers/individuals.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213883)

I suspect they were primarily concerned with the adverse effect suspending the first sale doctrine would have on currently legitimate business. Surely ending the first sale doctrine overseas would benefit the publishers, but it would hurt a lot of other companies too.

I doubt the rights of the individual ever came up.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213661)

Shall I rephrase then; The supreme court has ruled in favor of reason and against anti-competitive behavior as exhibited by book publishers who establish exclusive deals with schools so that they may charge exorbitant amounts of money to people who can't afford it whilst excluding any other agents and thereby precluding possibility of a free market existing within the confines of this arrangement (sorry for lack of punctuation, but I wanted to say it all in one breath for emphasis). Anyway, the fact that 3 of the judges were in dissent should tell you that the brain-trust over there is not playing with a full deck hence my surprise at the verdict. I know I'm not in minority when I DO FIND that the Supreme Court actually finds in favor of the 'consumer'.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213735)

But the body of law is frequently contradictory, and the Constitution is frequently vague. That give the justices a fair bit of latitude in their decisions while still being constant with the law. It is good to see them choosing to err on the side of individual's rights in a case that could very legitimately gone either way.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213781)

Those laws were created by people chaffing against the abuses of what would most likely be compared to one of our modern multinational corporations.

The notion of corporation as person would likely appall the whole lot of them regardless of political faction.

Re:Goodness! Did sanity just prevail?! (2)

RearNakedChoke (1102093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213909)

They're not supposed to rule in favor of consumers. Or corporations. They're supposed to rule in "favor" of the law, regardless of which side is popular. The why of a ruling is more important, often, than which side wins and the "right" ruling can be made for the wrong reasons.

Yes, and that's why SCOTUS isn't full of conservative and liberal appointees and why you can't ever predict not only the final outcome, but the count of SCOTUS judges in favor or against certain cases because these judges don't vote along party lines. These are judges that vote in "favor of the law".

Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213395)

Lets hope the US market gets flooded with textbooks from India and China. And no f***ing professor insists on you having the latest edition.

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (1)

Zcar (756484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213459)

Of course, now they'll start publishing region-specific versions of the texts so the Asian version will have the wrong problem set for North American coursework and prices will increase.

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213867)

The real question is why the Asian market texts were in English. I used to teach in China and all the books they were using were in Chinese, except the numbers and units of measure which were mostly in Arabic numerals with normal SI units using the normal alphabet used in Europe.

I'm really surprised that they're printing enough international edition textbooks in English for this to be a real problem for them.

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (2)

u19925 (613350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213915)

This is already the case. During my grad studies, only 20% of foreign editions were identical. The rest had either wrong page numbers or different questions (sometimes very similar questions with just a different set of numbers).

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (4, Insightful)

RandomFactor (22447) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213467)

If they wrote it....they'll want the latest edition.

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213511)

Where do you think the current books on the shelves are printed?

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (5, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213701)

It's funny -- there are all kinds of incentives for big business to move jobs offshore, or import cheap labor, but when the general public makes use of the same process, they complain. And they got 3 judges on their side, including a "liberal" judge (Ginsburg) and a lieralish judge (Kenedy) and of course Scalia. Expect a legislative solution to be purchased soon so that this "egregious" decision can be fixed and we can go back to falling wages and increasing corporate profits.

Re:Your Textbooks: Now Printed in China (2)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213645)

They'll just stop publishing in countries where the cost of parallel imports is more than the profit they make from those countries.

Gray market explodes (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213403)

No better time to start making money.

First banning NSLs, now this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213409)

I think I speak for every politician and lobbyist when I ask "Who the hell are these nine impostors, and what have they done with the real Supreme Court justices?"

Re:First banning NSLs, now this? (1)

pollarda (632730) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213505)

I think I saw a whole slew of these giant plant like pods stacked in the closet of the Supreme Court offices. Hmmmm... They seem a bit emotionless of late.

Re:First banning NSLs, now this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213717)

I think I speak for every politician and lobbyist when I ask "Who the hell are these nine impostors, and what have they done with the real Supreme Court justices?"

Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Scalia dissented. Scalia's anti-consumer wealth-is-power stance hasn't changed.

Re:First banning NSLs, now this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213855)

For the record, Roberts & the Supremes haven't ruled on the NSLs *yet*. That was a lower court.

Broad Application (4, Informative)

cob666 (656740) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213411)

Quoting the judge: 'the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad'

I'd like to see this concept applied to anything that is purchased outright. If the publisher lost the ability to control what happens to the book then shouldn't Microsoft lose the ability to control what happens to an XBox after first sale? Modifying the hardware of something that you own should NOT be against the law.

Re:Broad Application (3, Interesting)

a_big_favor (2550262) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213525)

Since when is it against the law to modify an Xbox?

Re:Broad Application (5, Informative)

PhrstBrn (751463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213591)

DMCA + DRM anti-circumvention clauses makes it a gray area in some places. Cosmetic mods are fine, things that might affect how Xbox DRM works, probably a DMCA violation.

Re:Broad Application (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213767)

DMCA + DRM anti-circumvention clauses makes it a gray area in some places. Cosmetic mods are fine, things that might affect how Xbox DRM works, probably a DMCA violation.

Actually, I would say not - you purchased the Xbox, right? Unless you are only 'leasing/licensing' it, it is yours to do with as you please, modify, etc. (My old original TRS-80 model-I is no longer "legal" to be sold, if anyone wanted to make them, because it wouldn't pass FCC radio-interference/emissions standards, doesn't make it illegal for me to own, modify, operate, or even resell).

It *would* be a DCMA violation for you to buy/acquire a copy of a game that wouldn't run on your Xbox without said modification. Now you are "stealing" the use of someone's copyrighted work without their permission.

Or put it this way, as a car analogy... if I buy a car, it is not illegal for me to rip out/disable all the door locks on my car, and probably not illegal for me to superglue my key in the ignition (or even replace the ignition switch entirely) so anyone who gets in the car can start it. Maybe stupid, but not illegal. And someone "unauthorized by me" getting into my lock-less car and starting it up and driving away is technically still guilty of stealing my car - regardless of the fact that I disabled the locks and the ignition keylock and made it "wide open", nothing illegal was done until the car was stolen.

Re:Broad Application (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213615)

Since the digital-lock breaking provisions of the DMCA. Hardware mods have been contraband for many years in the USA. Ask any Canadian mod-chip dealer and they'll tell you they will not ship to the USA because they don't want to risk their livelihood. Granted, it's now also illegal in Canada as of a few months ago.

Re:Broad Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213589)

baby steps, brother, baby steps. Much better to win in small steps at the supreem court than to lose a big one there.

Re:Broad Application (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213623)

you can modify the hardware all you want, you can't play on x-box live with modified hardware. online service is different than hardware you own.

Re:Broad Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213625)

It's not illegal to mod your xbox however it will void your warranty and possibly affect your ability to use xbox live services since you violated the TOS.

You are also taking what he said out of context. You still can't go and "mod" a book and then try to pass it off as the original work.

Re:Broad Application (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213651)

But they don't have to let you use their online service if your xbox has been tampered with, nor do they have to give you half the game if you buy it used and the activation code is used up. And consumers won't vote with their wallets on such an issue, the consumers in this case are pre-teens with more money than they know what to do with and no thoughts about anything beyond next week.

Legal questions aside, you could mod your console already prior to this decision. The enforcement to try to get you to not do that will remain the same after this decision: they won't sue you or arrest you, but they weren't before. Their control over your possessions wasn't based on laws.

Re:Broad Application (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213887)

I'd also like to see it for things like software licenses. For instance, VS.Net Pro 2012 in the US costs $472, but in Canada, it costs $667. Amazon US refuses to ship this product to Canada. That's almost a $200 difference (41% more) per license. Things go both ways here. Textbooks are more expensive in the US, and software is often cheaper, at least compared to other first world countries.

E-books (5, Insightful)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213413)

I wouldn't be surprised to see a bigger push towards e-books. That is a way around the "problem" for the publishers.

Re:E-books (5, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213503)

It won't be for long. The E.U. high court's decision to allow the resale of used software (Usedsoft vs. Oracle) stated that giving a permanent license for an one-time payment concludes a sale, and the First Sale doctrine applies. Just because you name your EULA in a fancy manner, it doesn't change that it covers a sale. At least for the E.U., all ebook providers thus have to implement the infrastructure to allow a resale of used ebooks.

Re:E-books (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213587)

It still works in the favour of the publishers. If I die, then my heirs will go through my phyiscal collection of books and CDs and probably sell them off in bulk to a used bookstore or record store. They probably not bother to go through my collection of ebooks and mp3s to see what needs to be sold.

Re:E-books (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213597)

I think the issue would be that the DMCA, unless substantially amended, would make first sale irrelevant, not that fancy-EULA-talk would eliminate first sale in theory:

If my DRM system is sufficiently robust that you would have to break it(either to transfer the file to the party you are selling to, or for the party you are selling to to read/execute the file), you can have your precious little 'first sale' rights, it's just that somebody still needs to commit a federal felony to make the goods sold actually worth more than $0 to anybody who I don't approve(since the value of an encrypted ebook you can't read, or software that won't run because the authentication server isn't giving it the thumbs up, isn't very high..)

Re:E-books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213507)

We will rue the day when the firemen are sysadmins.

Wait a sec... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213417)

Doesn't this apply to the first sale of any media abroad?

Very good leveller of the playing field... (4, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213427)

Now lots of online businesses peddling second hand goods will spring up in no time.

What about pdf books and eBooks? Can they be traded online or offered free by the legitimate purchaser?

Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (3, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213449)

Seriously? Reselling a physical product you bought legally needed the highest court in the land to adjudicate?

I'm not surprised to see Justices "Whatever helps big corporations the most is best for the country" Kennedy, and "Whatever the republican party says today is the founder's original intent" Scalia writing a dissent, though. I don't know what could have made Ginsberg side with them though.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213493)

I'm certain Kennedy and Scalia would have decided otherwise had the product in question been guns instead of books.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213629)

Even though I consider the second amendment poorly advised in a nuclear age, weapon(never sure why weapons that use a small explosive charge to propel a metal slug are particularly special in this regard) ownership is nevertheless a guaranteed right according to the highest law of the land, and I would very much like any court of the country to protect any individual right we have collectively decided is innate.

I'd personally like a supermajority of Americans to reconsider the value of the second amendment and amend it like we did with the 18th, but my current political views shouldn't dictate the rule of law.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213779)

The 18th was repealed... Outlawing booze accomplished nothing other than turn normal people into criminals.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213545)

"Seriously? Reselling a physical product you bought legally needed the highest court in the land to adjudicate?"

Yes, it did. BUT, you're wrong about one thing. It isn't the "physical product" that is at issue here. it's the copyrighted work.

This has BIG implications for copyrighted works. In essence, it upholds the 100-year-old rule that says publishers' "terms" bedamned: if you bought it, it's YOURS. You can sell it, burn it, or whatever you want.

Although lower courts have upheld First Sale Doctrine re: copyrighted software for resale on Ebay and Amazon, it was reaffirmed here by the Supreme Court.

So unless you have an existing contract with the publisher when you buy software, you can pretty much ignore their "license agreement". You bought it, it's yours. Once you have paid for it, you can do whatever you want with it, regardless of any "license agreement" inside the box or in a popup window. But you still can't legally distribute copies without the copyright holder's permission.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213575)

It wasn't apparent from my post, but I understand that abstraction here. The physical product just neatly embodies that character.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213897)

Yes, the key to this is that they were publisher created "original copies". Nothing was pirated/copied illegally, the publisher presumably has the rights (copyright) to publish the work, they printed it, they sold it - they aren't entitled to collect additional fees for the purchaser of the book reselling it to someone else, once sold that person owns it.

If someone was re-printing copies of the book, that would be a copyright violation - but they weren't, they were reselling legally obtained original copies.

I mean, in all seriousness - I go to the toystore and buy a boxed set of Monopoly for $10. I turn around and resell it to you for $15, that's none of their business - I paid them the price they asked, legally. Now, if I turned around and got some cardboard boards printed up and printed up Monopoly money and had little plastic pieces & houses & hotels made up, I'd be infringing on their business (profiting from their game idea, while they get nothing) - but me reselling the game I bought legally from them is fine (although I'm sure they would *rather* people bought new ones).

Change that and you'd put thrift stores (Salvation Army, etc) out of business, no more yard sales, etc. Heck, might as well start banning selling used cars, because y'know those cars contain *patented* technology that the car companies own...

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (1)

cfalcon (779563) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213561)

Maybe because Ginsberg fucking sucks too?

Remember the 5-4 decision saying that the government could take your house, give you a few bucks for it, and then hand the land over to someone with a business plan to build a mall? That was all "conservative" justices in the 4, with the swing siding with the "liberals" for the majority.

This should have been 9 fucking 0.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213773)

Oh, no, this isn't a liberal/conservative thing. It's a hating Scalia and Kennedy thing. I know you could get that impression from the fact that I was accusing Scalia of being a republican lapdog, but that's just his particular method of being terrible. The man seems intent on attacking/defending things in court on a strictly partisan basis.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213911)

According to the notes, Ginsberg didn't side with them.

BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KENNEDY, J., joined, and in which SCALIA, J., joined except as to Parts III and V–B–1.

They sided with her, at least in part for Scalia.

Re:Why did this need to go to the supreme court? (1)

Quila (201335) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213949)

Ginsburg wrote the dissent -- they sided with her, Scalia in part.

Wow (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213455)

This may be one of the most important decisions this court has gotten right in years. This was absolutely huge because of the implications of what would have happened if it had gone the other way. This is critical in terms of the idea of actually owning what you buy, without this manufactures could simply make things out of country and avoid first sale rights. This could have affected pretty much every aspect of Americans daily life and is a good first step in restoring Intellectual Property sanity.

It's funny how property rights have historically been a right wring agenda item until they are shown to be just as important to the left as well...

Re:Wow (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213837)

no one is suing the guy selling his one text book after class ends

this person didn't really buy the books for himself which is what the first sale doctrine is for? he had relatives buy books for the purpose of reselling them in a country where people have a lot more money

i'm surprised SCOTUS didn't find for the publisher. this is a pretty big expansion of the first sale doctrine

Country without copyright? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213461)

What happens if a country has no copyright law so all copies are legal? Can we then get all of our softwares/books/music/movie for next-to-nothing legally?

Re:Country without copyright? (4, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213627)

What happens when you import a pound of marijuana from a country where it's legal to a country where it's illegal?

Seriously? 6-3??? (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213485)

It's so clear cut how do 3 judges find the other way?

Surely they don't also think that if I buy a pair of shoes at Target I'm not allowed to turn around and sell them to someone else? But they think if I buy a book at Target I shouldn't be allowed to sell it to someone else? Or it's just that if that Target store happens to be across the border in Canada that changes everything and in that case no I can't resell the shoes?

Re:Seriously? 6-3??? (5, Informative)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213603)

Legally it wasn't so clear-cut. The case hinged on the wording of the Copyright Act, which grants first-sale doctrine to copies "lawfully made under this title [the Act]." The crucial debate was over the word under. Wiley alleged, and the lower courts agreed, that "under" meant "under the jurisdiction of": since the books were produced outside the US, they were made outside the jurisdiction of the Copyright Act and thus not made under the Act. Kirtsaeng alleged that "under" meant "corresponding to the rules set forth in" and thus the doctrine applied. SCOTUS held with Kirtsaeng.

Re:Seriously? 6-3??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213861)

Except that the manufacturer wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They wanted the goods to be protected by our copyright laws without the limitations thereof. The proper alternate ruling should have been that if they were not made under the act then they received NO copyright protection at all. Now that would have been an awesome ruling.

Re:Seriously? 6-3??? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213869)

First sale rights are not something that should depend on a statute to begin with. They should be a self-evident aspect of personal property right that are so taken for granted that they aren't explicitly stated anywhere.

Re:Seriously? 6-3??? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213607)

I think the border issue is a big deal.

I know people who used to take Levi's jeans to Europe to resell them since they cost so much more there than in North America. People had been prosecuted for this by claims of trademark infringement, which is not the same but similar.

Trademark infringement is what shut down re-importers of cigarettes that were popular in the early 2000s.

If you read TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213905)

If you read TFA, "the Court held that a copyright owner’s right to control importation under 602(a)(1) is a component of the distribution right set forthin 106(3) and is therefore subject to 109(a)’s codificationof the first sale doctrine". That's their reasoning. Simply put, if you believe that the copyright holder has the right to control distribution, than importing (new or used) denies that right. This is, in itself, a reasonable interpretation, which is why this is a supreme court case, at the balance between two rights. I think sanity prevailed, which is important.

The text of the judgment. . . (4, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213499)

may be found at this link [supremecourt.gov] . Surprisingly, Scalia was the only justice from the conservative wing to dissent.

Re:The text of the judgment. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213953)

It's no surprise Scalia was in favour of corporate rights over individual rights.

How are 3 judges so stupid? (0)

Aboroth (1841308) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213519)

It is great that this happened, but seriously, it is bad that 3 of our supreme court judges disagreed. I know I read the decisions for the exact reasons why, but I'm afraid of lawyer-speak infecting my brain and giving me an aneurysm.

Re:How are 3 judges so stupid? (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213769)

As another poster point out you can read the opinion here [supremecourt.gov] . From what I have read of previous supreme court opinions they are fairly readable unlike the laws that are drafted. I haven't read this one but that may be a task for lunch time today. This is also the same court that ruled that something can be both a tax and not a tax within the same ruling so strangeness is to be expected.

Re:How are 3 judges so stupid? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213935)

It isn't bad that 3 disagreed, it just means that this wasn't as legally cut and dry as you would assume. The 3 judges who dissented looked primarily at three separate sections of the law in question, 106(3), 109(a), and
602(a)(1).

Section 106 defines the exclusive rights to distribution that a copyright holder is allowed to control.

109 overrides 106 is some instances and is where first sale doctrine comes from:

        "Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3),
        the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord
        lawfully made under this title . . . is entitled,
        without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or
        otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or
        phonorecord.” "

Their difference with the majority was in their reading of 602(a)(1). They felt that that 602(a)(1) overrides section 109 in this case because it directly addresses importation and distribution. By selling 600 copies of a book, they felt this section of the law was broken.

        “Importation into the United States, without the
        authority of the owner of copyright under this title, of
        copies or phonorecords of a work that have been
        acquired outside the United States is an infringe-
        ment of the exclusive right to distribute copies or
        phonorecords under section 106, actionable under sec
        tion 501.”

6-3? (1, Insightful)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213523)

6-3? What did the 3 think? This is mind boggling. And kind of frightening.

Re:6-3? (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213747)

It is amazing how many different opinions judges have among/within the various levels of courts. When even judges can't agree, it certainly muddies the definition of "right" and "wrong".

Re:6-3? (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213919)

If only they wrote a dissenting opinion. I guess we'll never know what they were thinking!

Can it be extended to cell phone unlocking? (2)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213549)

Is there any way we can say the same about cell phones? Even if they were bought under contract? As long as I am still using their service I should be able to unlock the phone!!

Judges that voted against (3, Interesting)

roccomaglio (520780) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213583)

The majority opinion was written by Justice Stephen Breyer and he was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas. The majority opinion was that you loose control when you sell something. Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Samuel Alito said that congress was free to change the law if they wanted, but sided with the majority. The dissenting opinion was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.

Re:Judges that voted against (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213927)

What? Alito not voting the same as Scalia? Has he all of sudden grown an independent brain?

Where First Sale fails, DMCA prevails! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43213593)

So it's come to this. Time for publishers to get the region-locked books out there as soon as possible! Then, as everyone knows, it becomes a DMCA issue, and that's one they'll NEVER get rid of! It has the word "millennium" right there in it! That means it's futuristic*!

*: For definitions of "futuristic" locked in a period of time when marketeers thought the word "millennium" was futuristic.

Private property rights (5, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213605)

Many here do not understand event the definition of capitalism:
private ownership and operation of property
that's all it is.

Denying people's right to private ownership and operation of property is denying capitalism. It's a good thing that this judge went in the right direction, but what is troubling is that this was ever even a question: can people own property?

Can people own and operate private property? Can you sell your own stuff that you made or bought? Isn't that a strange thing to ask in a society that is supposedly capitalist? But of-course it is not a strange thing to ask, because the society is no longer capitalist. Capitalism really exists as a concept in a free market economy, because capitalism in fact requires individual freedom. Denying freedom to the individuals will automatically deny capitalism and what do you have when you do not have capitalism because you do not have freedom?

Well, you may still end up with some people owning and operating private property but not all people being able to do it, because the governing principles changed to deny all people equal protection against government intervention by law.

It is when you do not have equal treatment of people in the context of their relationship with their government by law when you really no longer have free market but you also lose the principles of capitalism for most people.

Again: capitalism is ownership and operation of private property. This is a basic fundamental right, all other rights are only an extension of this one right. If you have no right to own and operate private property, you will not be able to have resources, you will not even be allowed to own and operate your own body. And that's true even today, look at this lack of capitalism, lack of free market and thus lack of freedom even to do what you want with your own body. All these government officials telling you what you must or are not allowed to do, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, who you can and cannot have sex with, etc.

Unfortunately it is now news when a judge actually protects individual freedoms in a rare case of outbreak of common sense or decency or something like that, it's no longer the rule, it's the exception.

Very strange breakdown of votes (4, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213609)

The breakdown of votes is very different to what I'm used to seeing on Supreme Court cases – you've got Breyer, Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan in the majority, and Scalia, Kennedy, and Ginsburg in dissent. That's really weird; usually you've got Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts on the conservative wing voting together, with Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor as the liberal bloc. Kennedy is a bit of a swing vote, though he's gone more with the conservatives recently, and Scalia used to occasionally vote with the liberals on civil liberties cases, but he doesn't any more and is now pretty much an elderly partisan crank. Roberts occasionally crosses the line (as with the decision upholding PPACA) but it's rather unusual to see so much intermixing between the liberal and conservative blocs.

Just goes to show that copyright as a political issue doesn't neatly break down along existing partisan lines.

Re:Very strange breakdown of votes (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213739)

...it's rather unusual to see so much intermixing between the liberal and conservative blocs.

Yeah really, it's like interracial marriage in the 50s. I'm not sure if it's even legal.

Not so strange (1)

jd.schmidt (919212) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213823)

Scalia, Kennedy and Ginsburg are over all much more authoritarian than the rest. Being authoritarian is in some ways at right angles to liberal vs. conservative. So they grant greater latitude for the Government to enforce rules.

This is a really tough case. (1)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213845)

This is a very tough case.

Copyright Law exists in order to further the useful arts by balancing the needs of the producer and the needs of the public. Let's look beyond the cheap shots that have already begun to permetate this thread and discuss in those terms.

Basically, this ruling amounts to telling wiley and sons (the producers) that they cannot reliably price discriminate for foreign markets. you might say "so what? tough cookies." but let's think about that for a moment.

basically, wiley has two choices at what price to set the textbooks at in thailand -

Price A - low price that thais can afford.
Price B - USA price or near to it

with price A, they can engage in fair competition in the thai market and earn a fair profit. at this price, they dont have too much to fear from piracy.
with price B, they can expect to sell few copies as piracy will be rampant. as it is highly unlikely that this is at the profit maximizing price, their profits will be lower.

this ruling basically compels them to either sell in thailand (a presumably much smaller market than the usa) at a price closer to price B or to make economically useless changes to their textbooks to make them unsaleable in the USA, such as printing them only in the thai language. or, they can do even worse stuff like arguing for import tarriffs from thailand to the usa on books.

even worse, it prevents them from doing things like giving away their textbooks in africa at a loss.

and even then, if they have to price at price B in thailand, their unit cost goes up and presumably they might have to raise the prices of US textbooks. a lose-lose.

first sale doctrine is important, but i dont see why it must apply accross borders given that there are other legitimate considerations, including the need to educate globally.

i cant say that this is a bad ruling, as ive not read the rulings, but offhand this issue is far more complex and in need of serious thought than some are giving it credit for here.

costco vs omega (1)

u19925 (613350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213857)

This means this [wikipedia.org] is overturned as well.
Big win for Costco and Costco members.

Re:costco vs omega (1)

h8sg8s (559966) | about a year and a half ago | (#43213947)

Ideally, yes. Also applicable for grey market items in many areas and markets. The world just got a little flatter.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?