Monday, September 13, 2010

Will Vernor vs. Autodesk Ruling End First Sale Doctrine Defense in Copyright Law?

Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc. (The End of the First Sale Doctrine?)

The above ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal is attached above. The Court ruled that the first sale defense in copyright law is not available to licensees of copyrighted works. This ruling should not present any issue with software, because software licenses typically limit what end users can do with the software in terms of transfers and re-sales. However, I need to further review the Court's opinion to see if the ruling is limited to software or if the ruling applies to other copyrightable materials such as books, DVDs and toys.

The first-sale doctrine is an affirmative defense to copyright infringement that allows legitimate owners of copies of copyrighted works to resell those copies. That defense, the court said, is “unavailable to those who are only licensed to use their copies of copyrighted works.”

The 3-0 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal, if it stands, means copyright owners may prohibit the resale of their wares by inserting clauses in their sales agreements.

Source: Wired

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