The U.S Department of Commerce (DoC) has been collecting public comment on the topic of the first sale doctrine and digital files in recent weeks; the agency was scheduled to meet about the issue on December 12 in Washington, DC. First sale doctrine is a set of exemptions to U.S. copyright law that permit consumers to resell used books or DVDs and libraries to loan books without seeking permission from publishers. Yet for reasons examined in more detail below, first sale exemptions have not translated well for digital content. The DoC’s call for public comment could mark the beginning of a campaign to reassess what copyright and first sale mean in the modern digital era, notes one expert.
“When is a Sale Not a Sale? Selling vs. Licensing Digital Content” the International Digital Publishing Forum’s Digital Book 2013 conference asked. The panel, which took place on May 30 during the co-located BookExpo America last week in New York, featured Bill Rosenblatt, founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, who gave a point-by-point overview of the current state of digital copyright law.
The American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) today teamed up with 17 other associations, retailers, and charities to launch a new coalition called the Owners’ Rights Initiative (ORI). ORI is an “informal alliance of stakeholders” that will defend the first sale doctrine, which allows libraries to lend books and other materials, as well as individual owners to resell them.
What if you had to ask permission before selling, lending, or even giving away your books? On October 29, the Supreme Court hears oral argument in the case of Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons, a case that could change the way we own everything from books to watches. Libraries, who own books, movies, and other copyrighted works on behalf of all of us, could be hit especially hard.