Americans’ Right to Resell Used Cars, iPhones, DVDs, Family Antiques, or Other Used Items May Become Illegal Without Permission
Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on October 8, 2012
Just when you thought the government couldn’t become more intrusive, there is a pending US Supreme Court case that could limit the resale of goods that are made overseas but are sold in America. It could become illegal to resell your used iPhone 4, used car, used clothing, DVDs, computers, or your family’s antiques without permission.
This could become a nightmare of unfathomable proportions. The Supreme Court will determine if you have the right to sell the stuff you own — if you even own it.
Amazon, eBay, garage sales, second-hand stores, pawn shops, church rummage sales, swap meets, used car sales… all will be impacted if this ludicrous ruling passes. Nearly all electronics have some component in them that are made overseas.
From MarketWatch, Your right to resell your own stuff is in peril:
Tucked into the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda this fall is a little-known case that could upend your ability to resell everything from your grandmother’s antique furniture to your iPhone 4.
At issue in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is the first-sale doctrine in copyright law, which allows you to buy and then sell things like electronics, books, artwork and furniture, as well as CDs and DVDs, without getting permission from the copyright holder of those products.
Under the doctrine, which the Supreme Court has recognized since 1908, you can resell your stuff without worry because the copyright holder only had control over the first sale.
Put simply, though Apple Inc. has the copyright on the iPhone and Mark Owen has it 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 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.”