Is Your Garage Sale About to Be Illegal?

Apparently, there is case pending before the Supreme Court that could over turn the “right of first sale” for all goods that hold a US copyright, but are manufactured outside the US, which at this point is just about everything.

Here are a couple of links for those who are interested in more details:

Marketwatch: Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril

  1. Foxfier

    No idea if it would apply or not, but I’ve been expecting a crack down on yard sales for ages– since the first bakesale-and-lemonaid-stand outrages. 

  2. DrewInWisconsin

    What I hear you saying is I’d better sell my old Wiley Law books on Amazon, ASAP, before I can’t anymore.

  3. Foxman

    Copyright on cars or clothing?  As far as I know, copyrights are strictly for intellectual property.

  4. ConservativeWanderer

    This would put eBay out of business.

  5. Valiuth
    Foxman: Copyright on cars or clothing?  As far as I know, copyrights are strictly for intellectual property. · 1 hour ago

    Inventions in the operation of the engine, software running the car, or mechanical devices that go into your car would be covered. Heck do you know how this whole frackus started.

    The defendant discovered that the text books he was buying in the US for hundreds of dollars could be bought more cheaply back in his native country. So he had his family back there buy the books and ship them and then he sold them here for profit. The book publisher was not amused at this mans ingeniousness. So they sued.

    Text books have to be the biggest racket in our nation. I hope they loose… 

  6. Egg_Shen
    Foxman: Copyright on cars or clothing?  As far as I know, copyrights are strictly for intellectual property. · 1 hour ago

    True. Clothing is generally protected by trademark, not copyright.

    If upheld, how long do we think it would take before this precedent is extended into trademark law?

  7. Keith Doherty

    Thanks for posting this!  I was actually considering writing a post about that same MarketWatch article; glad I checked the member feed beforehand.

    Is the article inaccurate? Hyperbolic? If it’s accurate, I find the whole thing very disturbing– in terms of government intrusion and economic upheaval, this is something that has the potential to be as destructive as Obamacare.  (at the risk of sounding hyperbolic myself;-)

    The article suggests this has implications for not only eBay and Craglist, but Used Car sales and even foreign manufacturing.

    “[It’s] a non-free-market capitalistic idea for something that’s pretty fundamental to our modern economy,” [Marvin] Ammori commented.

    How does something like this get as far as the Supreme Court?

    I’ll echo that request for input… I’m hoping some our our crack legal minds here can shed some light on this.

  8. DrewInWisconsin
    ConservativeWanderer: This would put eBay out of business. · 3 hours ago

    “At some point I think you’ve made enough money.”

  9. 1967mustangman

    Yes I also would love to hear input on this.  I have heard people stating this could put the DVD resale busienss out or market and possibly even the rental market…….I mean I am a bibliophile and my greatest joy is rummaging through a used bookstore for a good deal.  Is this going to be at stake too?

  10. Valiuth

    Frankly why should any one be surprised at a companies attempt to abuse the copyright system. When the government creates monopolies they encourage rent seeking behavior. Ultimately the consumers pay the price by being offered less choices and having to bare higher prices. 

  11. John Hanson

    Relative to textbooks, the dollar difference is surprising, when my daughters were in college, we bought them a full US license and new book for each class, many well over $200.00 each, for some classes, where my daughters wanted me to provide help on request, I bought international editions for myself.   Typical, $229.00 US edition, $45.00 international edition.  

    Now, again typically international versions much lower quality, poor paper, poor binding, and much less use of color, but text and problem sets identical.  Sometimes, (but usually didn’t know until receipt of text) quality was identical for much less.   This is one example where US citizens are already paying hidden international taxes, every time we buy a book.  In many foreign countries there are governmental price controls on the textbooks, so companies forced to sell at low price, then raise price to whatever market will bear in US (Very high, BECAUSE of Federal Education support), many people can cover books in school grants, loans and then deduct part of costs, so US taxpayers are subsidizing not only US students, but foreign ones as well.

  12. Pilli
    Valiuth: Frankly why should any one be surprised at a companies attempt to abuse the copyright system. When the government creates monopolies they encourage rent seeking behavior. Ultimately the consumers pay the price by being offered less choices and having to bare higher prices.  · 0 minutes ago

    So Kirtsaeng made over $1 million selling college text books on e-bay.  It is more profitable for Wiley to spend a couple of million on a Supreme Court case and retain their monopoly than to actually lower prices in the U.S.

    I have friends who have had family buy new cars in Puerto Rico and ship them for pickup Miami at a great savings.  (Many thousands of dollars.)  Puerto Rico is considered 3rd World and has huge tax and price advantages.  Same principle.

  13. Pilli

    Is this not the same as buying drugs from Canada?

  14. Misthiocracy
    Foxman: Copyright on cars or clothing?  As far as I know, copyrights are strictly for intellectual property.

    But there is intellectual property in a car or a garment.

    One is not allowed to manufacture and sell an identical car with an identical logo, after all.  Similar yes, but not identical.

    So, if you’re re-selling a company’s car, then according to the logic of this lawsuit you are selling the company’s intellectual property without the company’s permission.

    Similarly, one is allowed to manufacture a garment that is similar to another company’s garment, but one cannot put the original company’s logo on it. So, following the logic of the suit, re-selling the company’s actual garment means selling that company’s intellectual property without the company’s permission.

  15. Misthiocracy
    1967mustangman: Yes I also would love to hear input on this.  I have heard people stating this could put the DVD resale busienss out or market and possibly even the rental market.

    There’s still a DVD rental market?

  16. Chuck Back

    You don’t own that!

  17. Misthiocracy
    Pilli

    I have friends who have had family buy new cars in Puerto Rico and ship them for pickup Miami at a great savings.  (Many thousands of dollars.)  Puerto Rico is considered 3rd World and has huge tax and price advantages.  Same principle. 

    Up here in the Great White North it is illegal to buy a car from a country other than Canada or the USA, unless that car was specifically built for the Canadian or US market (like a car built in Mexico to Canadian regulatory specs).

    If the car is purchased in the US, or was designed to US regulatory specs, the owner must modify the car to Canadian regulatory specs.

    Here’s the really stupid part.  Say the car was built in Europe to European regulatory specs. Even if one modifies the car to Canadian specs it’s still illegal, for some reason.

    So, a Lamborghini built for the US market can be imported into Canada and modified, but a Lamborghini built for the Italian market cannot.

    And don’t even THINK of importing a car that nobody sells in the US market. We can’t have Canadians importing cheap Ladas or Tatas, now can we?

  18. ctlaw

    It is largely a tempest in a teapot.

    Pilli: Is this not the same as buying drugs from Canada? · 30 minutes ago

    Basically the same, although involving copyright instead of patent.

    It does not bar you from reselling stuff legitimately bought in the US (including foreign-manufactured goods brought in to the US on behalf of the copyright owner).

  19. captainpower
    Pilli: Is this not the same as buying drugs from Canada? · 30 minutes ago

    That’s what I was thinking.

    It’s not always nefarious.

    Drug company A invests a gazillion dollars in Research&Design to develop a drug and get it past the FDA.

    They sell it in rich nations for high prices.

    They know poor people in poor nations will be unable to afford the drug at rich nation pricing and will die, so they set the prices lower in those nations.

    People in rich nations buy and resell from poor nation to rich nation at a markup.

    I see a dilemma, and I’m not sure what the solution is.

    It is a bit different for drugs since there are authorized sellers/distributors involved. Bypassing the systems put in place for safety results in orders to shady distributors who advertise via spam.

  20. Antipodius

    But what if an illegal immigrant held a garage sale? Then what? And what if said undocumented worker was also a journalist?

    Cats lying with dogs? Apocalypse?

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