There is another copyright battle emerging over intellectual property, and this time you, John or Jane Q. Citizen, could be smack-dab in the middle of it, for one of the most innocuous acts you could imagine – selling your used iPad.
At present the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to rule on a case that will affect whether you can sell that iPad of yours, or any of dozens of other products, without first getting permission from scores of “copyright holders,” The Atlantic magazine reported.
If the nation’s highest court upholds rulings from lower federal courts on the matter, here are a few of the things that you have possibly done recently but will no longer be permissible:
– Sold a first-generation iPad to someone on Craigslist, even if you initially bought it from a licensed Apple dealer;
– Sold a used Omega watch on eBay so you could buy a better (new or used) Rolex at a local jewelry store;
– Sold an “import CD” of a band whose album was only released overseas but was purchased legally there; ditto for a copy of a foreign novel that wasn’t released in the U.S.;
– “Sold your house to a willing buyer, so long as you sell your house along with the fixtures manufactured in China, a chandelier made in Thailand or Paris, support beams produced in Canada that carry the imprint of a copyrighted logo, or a bricks or a marble countertop made in Italy with any copyrighted features or insignia,” The Atlantic reported.
What in the world…?
Designed here, but made overseas – that’s the issue
According to reports, the Supreme Court case centers around the “first-sale doctrine” in copyright law. The doctrine simply means that you are allowed to buy and sell the things you purchase – even if your things have a copyright holder, you can still sell them because the copyright holder’s control extends only to the “first-sale,” a concept that the high court has observed for over a century.
Think of it like this. You buy a book by an author; the author owns the copyright so you can’t legally make copies of the book without that author’s permission. But, under the first-sale doctrine, you bought a copy of the book and sell your copy to someone else – a friend, co-worker or a willing buyer online.
In 1998, the first-sale doctrine was challenged by some copyright holders, but the Supreme Court held that it applied to all products made and sold in the U.S. The current case, however, stems from products manufactured abroad; in particular, it involved textbooks.